Florida Governor signs an executive order suspending local pandemic rules

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Monday morning suspending all remaining local emergency orders across Florida related to COVID-19.

DeSantis announced the executive order Monday during a news conference at the Big Catch at Salt Creek, a seafood restaurant, in St. Petersburg. The executive order was signed along with a bill that changes the emergency powers of local governments — SB 1924.

[READ THE BILL HERE]

The governor was joined by state Sen. President Wilton Simpson and state House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

“We need a new construct for these emergency powers that have been used throughout the country — lesser so, obviously, from the state of Florida’s perspective — but certainly we’ve had local governments do it,” DeSantis said.

The governor then took swipes at the COVID-19 policies and restrictions seen in other parts of the country, while touting his own efforts to remove the emergency rules and orders put in place last spring, early on in the pandemic.

“We worked very hard, particularly since (last) summer, to jettison those types of policies and we focused on lifting people up,” DeSantis said. “We wanted people going back to work. We wanted our kids to be in school — we thought that that was very important that parents have the ability to send their kids to school — and we wanted our economy to be healthy. We wanted our society to be healthy. We wanted people to be happy living in Florida.”

The governor said the new legislation puts safeguards in place to protect against government overreach in the event of an emergency. It grants the legislature the ability to overrule an emergency order by the governor.

The new law also “creates a default legal presumption that during any emergency our businesses should be free from government mandates to close, and our schools should remain open for in-person instruction for our children,” according to DeSantis.

The governor said the restaurant he chose as the backdrop for this bill signing has been subject to fines from local governments.

“We’ve seen some of the abuses. We want to make sure that we stop that here, at the Big Catch. You know, they’ve had to deal with some of these local ordinances local restrictions,” DeSantis said. “I know they’ve been fined for doing things, and we want we want that to be something in the past.”

The law also requires emergency orders come in 7-day increments and local governments to “satisfy demanding and continuous justifications” for those orders to extend further, but only to a maximum of 42 days. It also gives the Florida governor the power to invalidate a local emergency order.

The bill is set to take effect on July 1. Because the law does not take action immediately, DeSantis signed an executive order suspending all remaining emergency orders that relate to COVID-19.

Source: Click Orlando

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