Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made one thing incredibly clear over the course of the last several months: Citizens of the Sunshine State will be the arbiters of their own choices when it comes to staying safe during this coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, DeSantis has taken the controversial step of making it illegal for businesses and municipalities to install their own mask or vaccine mandates, and he is not afraid to use the power of the law to compel obedience.
This week, that meant dropping a $3.5 million fine on an entire county.
The Florida Health Department fined Leon County on Tuesday for violating the state’s ban on vaccine mandates after the county fired 14 employees for not complying with its policy, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday.
“We must protect the jobs of Floridians and preserve the ability of Floridians to make their own decisions regarding what shots to take,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter.
That didn’t sit well with Leon County.
Leon County’s administrator, Vincent Long, said in a statement the county’s vaccine mandate “was not only completely legally justifiable, but it was a necessary and responsible action.”
He added that the county intends to “enforce its rights” using available remedies to settle the issue with its vaccine mandate and the state’s law against it.
Florida’s anti-mandate laws are almost sure to be challenged in court in the coming months, as a number of businesses and local governments have already defied DeSantis.