Welcome to

Capitol News Service

Florida's Best Political Coverage on Television




Recent Posts

RSS Quote of the Day

  • Josh Billings
    "Laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it principally in one place."
  • O. Henry
    "There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American."
  • Salvador Dali
    "The thermometer of success is merely the jealousy of the malcontents."
  • Mark Twain
    "Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."

Jeff Vasilinda becomes the Vasilinda Family’s first published author!

With Gaming Compact Blocked, Next Steps for State Unclear

November 24th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

The Seminole Tribe is seeking to put a ruling that struck down the state’s new gaming compact on hold so the tribe can continue offering sports betting while an appeal moves forward.

There are also at least two other options state lawmakers could consider to salvage some of the $500 million a year the state will lose without a deal.

The Seminole Tribe is hoping to continue offering online sports betting while it appeals the ruling that struck down its $500 million a year compact with the state.

But sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach doubts the tribe will succeed because the tribe hasn’t stopped taking bets even with the ruling in effect.

“They’re making the likelihood of success for themselves and the odds here infinitely, infinitely much more difficult by engaging in activity that’s already deemed a violation of the law,” said Wallach.

But Wallach said the state and the tribe could potentially salvage the majority of the compact on appeal.

“Because there is language in IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act), which allows the preservation of the compliant parts of the compact to remain in tact,” said Wallach.

There’s also another option.

State lawmakers could revert back to the 2010 compact if they outlaw designated player card games offered by parimutuel facilities.

“The simplest thing to do is for Florida to simply follow the terms of the initial 2010 compact and get $350 million a year,” said John Sowinski with No Casinos Inc.

Wallach on the other hand, argues the best option would be for state lawmakers to amend the compact signed this year and exclude online sports betting.

“That’s roulette, that’s craps, that’s on-reservations sports books, that’s the ability to build four new casino structures. You can have all of that,” said Wallach.

Even without sports betting, the state could still bank $450 million a year from a deal with the tribe.

State lawmakers will be back next week for committees, but there’s been no indication they plan to gavel in to pass an amended compact.

So far the State of Florida has not taken any formal action to appeal the ruling striking down the compact.

“We are reviewing the Court’s perplexing ruling, which certainly contains appealable issues. Because neither the Seminole Tribe nor the State of Florida are parties to the case, it is unclear what if any immediate impact the ruling has in Florida,” said the Governor’s Press Secretary Christina Pushaw in an emailed statement.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Sports Betting Once Again Illegal in Florida

November 23rd, 2021 by Jake Stofan

If you were planning to bet on the on the Thanksgiving Day NFL game through the Seminole Tribe’s Sports betting app, you might want to think twice.

A ruling Monday night from a federal judge struck down the tribe’s compact with the state, which means at least for now sports betting is illegal in Florida.

However, voters may have an opportunity to legalize sports betting in less than a year.

At the start of this month the Seminole Tribe launched its Hard Rock Sportsbook App.

Now a federal judge has ruled the compact that made it possible null and void.

State Representative and former House Gaming Chair Randy Fine told us Floridians should stop placing sports bets, at least for now.

“Unless you want to be a felon,” said Fine.

But Fine noted sports betting could be back if voters will it.

“Voters could have an opportunity even if the compact worked out, but not until next November,” said Fine.

Florida Education Champions is behind the citizen initiative seeking to legalize sports betting across the board.

Tax revenue generated would be used to boost education funding.

“We estimate hundreds of millions of dollars and that’s based on comparison to other states, large states, that are also implementing this,” said Christina Johnson with Florida Education Champions.

The citizen initiative also wouldn’t run into some of the issues the compact faced, because voters would have to approve it.

Unlike the compact, the initiative allows for betting not only on professional and collegiate, but also amateur sporting events.

John Sowinski with No Casinos doubts Florida voters would sign off.

“You’d have people betting on high school football if this thing were to pass. I don’t think Florida voters, that that agrees with their sensibility. Even those who might not be that opposed to the general idea of sports betting,” said Sowinski.

The sports betting initiative only has 116,000 signatures validated so far, but the group backing it tells us more than half a million have been collected.

It will need approval from the State Supreme Court and nearly 400,000 more signatures to make the 2022 ballot.

If it does make the ballot the initiative would need 60 percent voter approval to pass, a feat no gaming expansion of this magnitude has ever achieved in Florida.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Judge Blocks Seminole Compact

November 23rd, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

A Federal Judge has thrown out the state’s gambling deal with the Seminole Indians.

The compact signed last April included sports betting, which is what undid the agreement, because it wasn’t already legal in Florida.

The 25-page opinion was strongly worded.

Under the compact signed this past April, sports bets could be placed on a phone from anywhere and deemed legal as long as the servers were on tribal lands.

The court wrote that it “cannot accept that fiction”.

“You know, elections have consequences,” said John Sowinski, founder of No Casinos Inc.

Sowinski, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the so called ‘hub and spoke’ design was a deception.

“And in 2018 Florida voters went to the polls and by a margin of almost 72 percent locked the key on more gambling in our state and kept it in their own hands,” said Sowninski.

In a one sentence statement, the Seminole Tribe said it was reviewing the judge’s order and carefully considering its next step.

The Governor, speaking in Broward early in the day had not yet been briefed when asked by a reporter.

He expects an appeal.

“We also knew when you do hub and spoke, it was unsettled legal issue,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

While the compact contains severability language that would have kept other provisions of the compact alive, the judge noted the Department of Interior didn’t ask for it, so she killed the whole deal.

“The problem is the Biden administration didn’t tell the judge that, so the judge said if you’re not going to ask me to make it severable, then I’m not. And Joe Biden owns that,” said State Representative Randy Fine.

In a later statement, the Governor’s office called the ruling ‘perplexing’ and added, “It is unclear what if any immediate impact the ruling has in Florida”.

And since neither the state nor the tribe are parties to the suit, it is unclear who would appeal

The judge ordered the Seminole Tribe to operate under the previous 2010 compact, which the state had violated by allowing parimutuels to operate so called designated player games.

The tribe stopped paying the state $350 million a year two years ago because of the violation.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Governor Seeks to Lower Gas Tax

November 22nd, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Ron DeSantis made stops at two convenience chains Monday to announce plans to lower gas prices by suspending collection of the state’s 26.5 cent-a-gallon tax.

State lawmakers won’t be able to act before consumers see an automatic increase of eight-tenths of a cent on January first.

Florida last cut the gas tax by eight cents a gallon, just for the month of August in 2004.

“I propose we lower the state gas tax by ten cents,” said then-State Representative Bob Henrique in March of 2004.

Henrique, now Hillsborough’s Property Appraiser, pushed the idea of a gas tax holiday.

“It’s costing me another $25 a week,” said Financial Consultant Doc Viker.

But at stops in Daytona and then Jacksonville, Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans to suspend the tax’s collection for up to six months.

“This will be many months and this will be over a billion dollars. So that will be real, meaningful relief for people,” said DeSantis.

The 2004 cut saw some hoarding gas, which hurt supply.

Some companies didn’t comply so the state set up consumer hotlines for complaints.

Florida’s 26.5 cent gas tax will automatically adjust for inflation, rising to 27.3 cents January first.

Two top Democrats competing to run against DeSantis last week called on him to stop the January increase.

Democratic State Rep. Anna Eskamani said despite the politics at play, it’s a good idea.

“It’s a worthy cut to discuss because it’s regressive and so it’s going to benefit everyday people,” said Eskamani.

And pool contractor Steven Gilmore told us if the tax goes down, he can start saving again.

“It would be good for me. I don’t know if it’ll be good for the budget,” said Gilmore.

The state does have billions in reserves and gas tax collections were up by half a billion last year over what was expected, so money isn’t an issue.

The cuts could come early next year and must be approved first by state lawmakers.

They begin their annual session January 11th.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

State Loses First Round in Challenge to Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate

November 22nd, 2021 by Jake Stofan

The State of Florida has been dealt an initial blow in its battle to block a federal rule requiring health care workers to get vaccinated.

The federal policy conflicts with the state law banning vaccine mandates and could result in facilities facing stiff fines, but health care groups are most concerned about how the mandate will affect staffing levels.

Health care workers will have to be vaccinated by December 6th or billions of Medicaid dollars could be withheld from facilities.

Kristen Knapp with the Florida Health Care Association told us nursing homes have no choice but to comply.

“That December 6th deadline is fast approaching and we’re all working really hard to make sure that we’re in compliance,” said Knapp.

And with only about six of ten nursing home staff vaccinated to date, Knapp worries how staffing could be affected.

“There’s a possibility if we have limited staffing that we have to shut down wings, limit admissions,” said Knapp.

Compliance with the federal rule would also mean facilities could face ten to $50,000 fines from the state for every employee fired.

Mary Mayhew with the Florida Hospital Association said health care facilities are in desperate need of resolution.

“Where there is confusion there’s a lack of clarity and that’s where we are right now between the state law that has recently been passed and the federal rule,” said Mayhew.

So far the state’s efforts to block the federal vaccine mandate for health care workers in the courts has been unsuccessful.

The Governor has vowed to continue fighting the rule, despite a US District Judge refusing to block it in an initial ruling.

“I don’t want to see anyone get thrown out of a job based on getting a shot or not getting a shot,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

The Governor said he plans to take the state’s lawsuit against the rule to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, but there’s no guarantee a ruling will come before the December 6th deadline.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office issued this statement about the loss in the lower court.

“Attorney General Moody will continue to fight back on President Biden’s unlawful vaccine mandates. We strongly disagree with this order and will pursue further action in court to protect the livelihoods and rights of all Floridians,” said Moody’s Director of Public Affairs Lauren Schenone Cassedy.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Florida Continued to Outpace National Job Growth in October

November 19th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Florida continues to outpace the nation in job growth, adding 41,500 jobs in October.

The unemployment rate also dropped two-tenths of a percent and 29,000 Floridians rejoined the workforce.

The numbers paint an optimistic picture for Florida economic recovery.

Florida makes up about six and half percent of the nation’s population.

In October, the jobs added here made up nearly eight percent of the total job gains nationwide.

“We’re seeing labor force growing, we’re seeing the unemployment rate declining and we’re adding jobs to payrolls at the same time,” said Adrienne Johnston, Chief Economist at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

September’s numbers were even better.

Four of every ten US jobs added that month were in Florida.

“For the month of September Florida added over 84,000 new jobs,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a video released late last month.

In October the leisure and hospitality sector saw the most growth adding 16,600 jobs, but the industry still 27 percent below pre-pandemic employment levels.

“We need a lot more. so we’re ready for folks that have been in our industry to come back,” said Geoff Luebkemann with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

State economists project the state’s economy will only continue to improve, especially with the new state law limiting employee vaccine mandates.

“What we saw was a positive move,” said Johnston.

The Restaurant and Lodging Association said it’s too soon to tell how the new law will impact the industry.

“I tend to think that one of the drags on getting people back in to work in hospitality and tourism doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines, it has more to do with lifestyle factors. Childcare and things. Kind of externalities,” said Luebkemann.

And the Governor directly attributed job growth to the state’s pandemic policies.

“Our state’s economy is growing faster than the nation because we keep our businesses open and push back against heavy-handed mandates,” the Governor Tweeted Friday.

Florida’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in October was on par with the national average for the month, which was also reported at 4.6 percent.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Hospitals Now Stuck Between Conflicting State and Federal Vaccine Policies

November 18th, 2021 by Jake Stofan
Florida hospitals are now facing a dilemma, stuck between conflicting federal and state policies on employee vaccine mandates.
To comply with one they would have to violate the other and both come with stiff financial penalties.

Hospitals have until December 6th to vaccinate all of their employees under a US Department of Health and Human Services rule.
Florida Hospital Association President Mary Mayhew told us hospitals plan to comply because failing to do so would cost them billions of dollars in Medicaid funding.
“Because of our obligation to ensure access for elderly Floridians for those who depend upon the Medicaid program,” said Mayhew.
But complying with the federal policy means hospitals will be at odds with the new state law banning vaccine mandates.
Even some Republicans are concerned.
“We can’t have both of these at the same time and put these hospitals in this position. It’s untenuous,” said State Representative Spencer Roach.
Democratic lawmakers said the problem could have been avoided by exempting health care workers from the mandate ban.
“What we could have done was accepted the amendments that would have fixed that problem,” said State Representative Fentrice Driskell.
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the HHS rule, but unlike the OSHA vaccine requirement, so far no court has blocked the vaccine mandate for health care workers.
Florida has now joined at least 22 other states already suing to block the HHS rule.
The Legislature dedicated $5 million to the Attorney General in its vaccine mandate ban to pursue enforcement of the state’s policy and legal action against mandates promulgated by the federal government.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls said this battle was always destined to be resolved in the courts.
“Which is why we provided the money for the Attorney General to make sure that we could do that effectively and adequately,” said Sprowls.
And unless the courts say otherwise, hospitals said they’ll comply with the HHS rule over the new state law, exposing them to $10,000 or $50,000 fines per violation.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Insults Lobbed at President Cause Unrest on House Floor

November 18th, 2021 by Jake Stofan
While the Florida House debated legislation banning vaccine mandates Wednesday, lawmakers erupted into a rare verbal altercation when a Republican lawmaker twice called the President a tyrant.
“We don’t know if he’s really the President if that was your question, but he is a tyrant nonetheless,” said State Representative Anthony Sabatini.
House Democrats demanded Sabatini be reprimanded for the remarks.
Multiple times during debate Democrats were asked to keep their comments to the subject of the bill after making comments about the Governor.
“Any comments regarding the President of the United States, President Biden, any comments related to the Governor of the State of Florida, Ron DeSantis, those comments should not be made in this chamber,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Bryan Aliva addressing the chamber after the outburst.
Following the conclusion of the session Democratic lawmakers called Sabatini’s remarks political theater.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Horse Trading Saves One Special Session Bill

November 17th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida lawmakers are expected to end their five day special session Wednesday afternoon after just three days.

With a GOP majority solidly in charge, only one bill creating a public records exemption was ever in doubt because public records exemptions require a two thirds vote.

House Bill 3 B removes from public records the names of employees who complain to the Attorney General about their employer’s vaccine requirements.

Representative Joe Geller asked his fellow Democrats to vote no.

“It takes a two-thirds vote,” said Geller.

Which is more votes than the GOP controls.

Polk County’s Colleen Burton told House members without the exemption medical records could become public.

“They will be able to put it on Facebook, Twitter,” said Representative Burton.

The day began with an uncertain vote count.

Over the three hours before the bill came up, neither House Speaker Chris Sprowls or his top three lieutenants were on the House floor.

“I don’t like most of this bill,” said Democratic State Representative Michael Grieco.

Before the vote, Grieco said he would vote yes.

“There is one issue that’s there that I know would be important to my constituents, and that’s our ability to protect the health information of employees,” said Grieco.

The vote sheet shows eight other Democrats joined Grieco to support the bill.

As the session broke, we spoke with one of the people who had been in the back room of the chamber for three hours.

We how much did was given up to get the Democratic votes and were told ‘You’ll have to take that up with someone higher up’.

So we went to the top, asking House Speaker Chris Sprowls about the horse trading.

“No cost, unless cost is good policy. The public records bill, without that bill there would have been people private, religious, medical information that would be posted on Facebook potentially if there was a public records request,” said Sprowls.

Horse trading is as old as politics and a state with a $100 billion budget can trade a lot of horses.

The public records exemption automatically ends on October 2, 2023.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

House Wraps Work in Vaccine Mandate Special Session

November 17th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

State Lawmakers voiced their final arguments before passing legislation banning vaccine mandates and setting in motion a plan to create a state version of OSHA.

While Democrats didn’t have the votes to overcome the Republican majority, they made their opposition clear.

The day started with a debate on legislation that would set in motion a plan to create a state version of OSHA.

Democrats argued it gives to much flexibility to the Governor, who would be in charge of developing the plan.

“We’ve not provided any framework. We’ve not provided any guardrails,” said Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Then the discussion moved to a bill stripping the Surgeon General’s authority to force vaccinations.

“The federal government still provided us all these vaccines without ever using this power,” said bill sponsor Representative Alexander Andrade.

Democrats again stood in opposition.

“Just because we have never used it does not mean it should not be available,” said Representative Tracie Davis.

The bulk of debate fixated on the feature legislation of the special session, which bans public employer vaccine mandates, limits private employer vaccine mandates and prohibits school mask mandates.

“This bill is about keeping peoples’ jobs,” said Representative Ralph Massullo, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Democrats criticized the $10,000-$50,000 fines businesses would face for violations.

“Our workers, are they gonna get the $50,000 if they come down with COVID?” said Representative Yvonne Hinson.

Despite Democrats’ best efforts every bill proposed this special session sailed through unchanged.

In a post session press conference Democrats called the past three days a waste of time.

“But the damage to public health will last for generations,” said Representative Evan Jenne.

But Republicans told us they believe the package of bills sends a message to the federal government.

“The federal government is now saying that they will use any power at their disposal because they believe the ends justify the means and I think that’s a real problem,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

And the bills could become the law of the land as soon as Thursday.

As of 4:30 pm Wednesday the Senate was still in session, but the chamber is expected to vote on the bills before the day wraps and send the bills to the Governor.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Hundreds Rally in Support of Banning Vaccine Mandates

November 16th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Hundreds of Floridians opposing vaccine mandates were at the State Capitol Tuesday to show their support for the Legislature’s special session.

Many shared personal stories of how their vaccination status cost them their job.

Opponents of vaccine mandates filled halls of the Capitol and the seats of committee rooms on the second day of the special session.

Some of them, like Nikki Murphy, were healthcare workers.

“We do not consent. There are thousands of health care workers that are prepared to walk away,” said Murphy.

Others, like Stephen Davis, firefighters.

“This mandate, this is what ultimately has terminated my job,” said Davis.

They came to support the legislature’s proposed ban on vaccine mandates.

Private employers would have to provide exemptions for those with natural immunity or who have religious or medical reasons for not taking the vaccine.

Fines range between ten and $50,000.

“These mandates are acting as if this vaccine ends this pandemic. And I also want to go on record saying clearly it doesn’t,” said Senate sponsor Danny Burgess.

Outside, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez addressed a crowd of hundreds.

“People should be empowered. People, not government, to make their own decisions,” said Nunez.

And although those in the crowd generally support the Legislature’s proposal, some we spoke to said they believe it doesn’t go far enough.

Lou Marin, National Director of the Florida Republican Assembly, wants a blanket ban on mandates, not just exemptions.

“There should be no mandates regardless,” said Marin.

The legislation does include a blanket prohibition on public sector vaccine mandates.

It also prohibits mask and vaccine mandates for students in public schools.

For Davis, knowing the legislation will help prevent others from losing their job over the vaccine is good enough for now.

“There’s always room for improvement and that’s something we can get into play later on,” said Davis.

At the speed the Legislature has moved during the special session, changes to the legislation aren’t likely at this point.

We’re told lawmakers will likely gavel out on Wednesday.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Vaccine Power to be Stripped from Surgeon General

November 16th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida lawmakers are moving quickly to ban vaccine and mask mandates for employees and students.

They are expected to wrap up their five-day session in just three and some of the most heated debate is over a 20-year-old law that has never been used.

Following the attacks on the twin towers, Florida lawmakers meet in a special session like the one this week and approved a bill giving the Surgeon General the power to force people to be vaccinated.

State Senator Aaron Bean is leading the charge to to repeal the vaccine authority.

He painted a graphic picture of what the future could look like if it remains on the books.

“That picture will be there down the road somewhere in Florida of somebody being held down against their will and having a vaccine or whatever it is injected into their person,” said Bean.

Opponents argued that even though the power has never been used, it may be needed in the future.

“The idea is to protect the public,” said State Senator Audrey Gibson.

Activists testified the law didn’t go far enough.

“It’s still in other places,” said Boca Raton resident Nikki Celso.

Senator Jason Pizzo recounted George Washington once ordered his troops vaccinated, b history lesson didn’t sway anyone.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill on party lines.

Senator Darryl Rouson voted no.

“He should, or she, should have all the tools available to curtain a public health emergency in their toolbox,” said Rouson.

Senator Jeff Brandes voted yes, but he argued as long as the word ‘treatment’ is still in the law, the bill is useless.

“It does only that it takes out the word vaccine, but it doesn’t actually prevent them from forcing a treatment upon somebody,” said Brandes.

Because the Surgeon General reports directly to the Governor, some lawmakers believe that’s enough control over what treatments may or may not be ordered.

A final vote is expected Wednesday, and since the bill was part of the Governors call, there is little doubt he will sign it.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

‘Jamie’s Law’ Would Require Background Checks on Ammunition Purchases

November 16th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Newly filed legislation would require background checks for anyone buying ammunition.

The bill is dubbed “Jamie’s Law, for Jamie Guttenberg, who died during the Parkland massacre in 2018.

Jamie’s father Fred, has been fighting to restrict guns since his daughter’s death.

He said the checks would cure a loophole in state law.

“The problem: There’s no requirement for a background check on ammunition sales. So you can be someone who just stole a gun, illegally got your gun from some kind of trafficking or were in possession of it and you are intending a crime. You can walk into any store and buy the bullets and nobody is going to check. If we extend background checks to ammunition, we immediately save lives,” said Guttenberg.

If passed, a person illegally purchasing or selling ammunition would face a third degree felony, which comes with up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

State Lawmakers to Spend $6 million Fighting Vaccine Mandates

November 15th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

While the majority of debate in the state Capitol during the special session on vaccine mandates will be focused on policy, some of the proposals also come with a price tag.

$6 million will go towards enforcing a mandate ban and creating a new statewide occupational safety agency.

With a statewide budget of roughly $100 billion, the $6 million lawmakers plan to commit this week to fight mandates is merely a drop in the bucket.

That has some Democrats like Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith questioning how serious Republicans are about these bills.

“Florida’s largest employers went forward with their vaccine requirement and all of those workers are now vaccinated. So this is all a stunt,” said Smith.

$5 million would go to the Attorney General to fund enforcement of the vaccine mandate ban.

State Senator Danny Burgess said those dollars are likely just the beginning.

“The reality is we’re going to be back in two months. So what we wanted to do was make sure that we dedicated enough money at this point in time to able to at least get us through that point in time,” said Burgess.

Lawmakers have also proposed $1 million to plan for a new state occupational health and safety agency.

The money would only start the process of creating a statewide OSHA replacement.

If a plan is actually carried out the price tag would be significantly higher.

“Probably somewhere between 20 and $25 million to staff it appropriately,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson.

The Governor would have to return a report on the creations of a statewide OSHA by January 17th of next year.

That report would detail timelines and costs associated with the creation of the agency.

Rich Templin with the AFL-CIO said he sees potential benefits to a statewide OSHA, but he has doubts lawmakers are truly committed.

“We just want to make sure that this effort is serious to improve worker safety and not just a political stunt looking to get headlines,” said Templin.

The state would also need approval from the federal OSHA… something it would be unlikely to receive under the current administration.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Lawmakers Begin Special Session on Vaccines

November 15th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida lawmakers began their special legislative session called to push back on national vaccine mandates and protect workers from losing their jobs on Monday.

Legislation is also expected to strengthen the Parents Bill of Rights to clarify they are in control of whether their children wear masks in school.

Before lawmakers ever began Monday afternoon, several dozen central Florida firefighters were already at the Capitol supporting the ban on vaccine mandates.

Most worked through the pandemic and now believe they are getting kicked to the curb if they don’t get a shot.

“I was the 2019 Florida State Firefighter of the Year two years ago, and now since August, I’m fighting for my job,” said Orange County firefighter Jason Wheat.

The firefighters posted a new video online, explaining that they aren’t against vaccines, but believe it should be a personal choice.

“What’s going on right now is affecting firefighters mentally. Very much so emotionally wise, and also physically,” said Orange County firefighter Wendy Williams.

Inside the Capitol Florida Democrats held a press conference pushing back on the GOP agenda.

State Senator Janet Cruz called the session political and a waste of time and money.

“I really, honestly don’t understand why people would walk around unprotected,” said Senator Cruz.

GOP House Speaker Chris Sprowls expects quick approval of the bans on vaccine mandates.

“Can someone have a religious exemption, can that be possible? Yes. Should someone have a medical exemption, or testing, or if they just got COVID last week, should they have to be vaccinated this week? Does that make sense? If they are pregnant, should they have to get vaccinated? If they are willing to submit to daily or weekly testing, should they have to get vaccinated?” said Sprowls.

While the session is scheduled to go five full days, lawmakers have scheduled floor votes on Wednesday, which means they could go home two days early.”

The Governor was in Miami early in the day at the Freedom Tower, pushing a plan to restore the symbolic building.

He he didn’t take questions, but the underlying message was made clear by Lt. Governor Janette Nunez.

“The free state of Florida stands with you,” said Nunez.

Several bus loads of firefighters are expected at the Capitol Tuesday, as the full House takes the first vote on the package of bills in the morning.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

« Previous Entries

copyright © 2016 by Capitol News Service | Powered by Wordpress | Hosted by LyonsHost.com