Top Three Takeaways – October 13th, 2021
- Accountability is coming. Just as the Florida Board of Education didn’t allow the eight school districts violating state law by continuing to impose mask mandates without parental opt outs, off the hook last week...the Florida Department of Health isn’t going to tolerate lawlessness either. On Monday the FDOH revealed a total of 120 organizations who were being investigated for potential violations of the state’s law banning proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of service. On Tuesday they dropped the hammer on one of them - Leon County. Citing 714 violations of state law at a tag of $5,000 a piece, the county has been handed a bill for $3.57 million. It appears Leon might have been first for two reasons. The pervasiveness of the violations, in which the county clearly ignored state law, instead implementing policy as they pleased (sound familiar school districts) and due to the number of government employees fired by the county over their vaccine mandate – 14. Quoting DeSantis: It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees’ medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions. We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law. We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom. That suggests Leon is the first shoe to drop, but it’s not the last. This is a clear warning shot to all the others on that list along with any others getting ideas by those who’ve chosen to impose the frivolous and lawless mandates. Accountability is coming and there are a bunch of people across a myriad of sectors and industries who should be awfully nervous about now. Incidentally, the response by Leon County was also instructive. Here’s the quote from County Administrator Vince Long: It’s obvious to me that the Governor’s position here is political strategy which has nothing to do with the positions we’ve taken. The Governor’s response to that is unfortunate, and we plan to assert our legal rights to support the actions we’ve taken, which we believe are not only completely legally justifiable but are the most responsible thing we could do in this case in keeping with all of the public health guidance. Except there are at least two problems with that line of thinking. This is the law of the state of Florida, not a specific political strategy of the governor, details, right? And...
- The Florida Department of Health is a thing. Among the more remarkable dynamics of the repeated lawlessness of governments across the state of Florida is their repeated make-believe fantasy world in which the Florida Department of Health doesn’t exist. The enforcer of the Leon County fine is literally the Florida Department of Health. And here’s the county administrator saying their policy is in line with “all of the public health guidance”. This is no different than the nonsense with the mask mandates within offending school districts. They’ll cite public health experts as the reason for their lawless policies yet the policy for the parental optout option for masks was crafted by non-other than the FDOH. It's clear local governments which want to make up their own rules for the pandemic pick and choose the health experts they like while ignoring the top health authority in the state. And here’s the thing above and beyond even the issues at hand. One day this pandemic will end but the precedents set during it won’t. We’re either a state rooted in law or rooted in lawlessness. Aside from violating the rights of Floridians, from the school districts to Leon County and other entities likely to be found guilty of violations, if the rule of law isn’t upheld today what does it mean tomorrow? If you don’t like the laws, you vote for politicians who will change them to what you want. You don’t break the law and blame others for your lawless behavior. Every government official in Florida who willfully breaks the law should be fired, not their employees and constituents who have their rights violated.
- Florida’s Economy Is Back & Better Than Ever. According to a study by the Foundation for Government Accountability, Florida’s economy hasn’t just survived the pandemic, we’re once again thriving even while still in it. One of the biggest takeaways from the report was Florida’s finding that Florida’s economy is now set to exceed pre-pandemic performance. According to the study, Florida’s economy is now producing $60 billion more in economic output compared with 2019’s record year and we’ve already cranked out a record number of new businesses this year. Imagine how different our state would be if it were run by the Leon County administrator or the school boards in South Florida. Clearly what Florida’s doing is working and even the lawless local government officials who want to blame DeSantis for their own bad behavior are benefiting from it.