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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Florida congressional Democrats unveil legislation to override state bans on local COVID mandates

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, who introduced the bill, said her legislation is in response to the upcoming Florida special legislative session.

The bill, unveiled by Florida Rep. Lois Frankel, would allow local governments and private businesses to impose their own COVID rules and ignore state laws.

A group of Florida Democrats in Congress unveiled legislation on Friday aimed at allowing local governments and businesses to impose COVID rules and ignore state laws imposed by the Legislature.

Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, who introduced the bill, said it is in response to the upcoming special legislative session called by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The session will focus on measures to prevent schools, businesses and governmental entities from imposing vaccination mandates and other pandemic restrictions.

Frankel said the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, which gives Congress the power to regulate commerce between states, gives Congress the authority to overrule any vaccine passport or mask mandate bans that become law at the state level.

“This seems to be a race to the bottom by governors wanting to score points with a certain political wing of the country,” Frankel said. “Communities that want to follow CDC guidelines should be supported, not punished.”

Frankel's legislation would supersede any state law that limits local governments, agencies and private businesses from implementing safety precautions. The bill makes it clear that employers may take measures to protect employees and patrons from COVID-19 including through vaccine and masking requirements.

Read more at our news partner the Miami Herald.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.