A Florida bill is starting to make inroads on defining what services are essential in an emergency.
State Senator Jason Brodeur (R, Sanford) filed Senate Bill 254 on September 17. It stipulates that “emergency orders may not expressly prohibit religious institutions from regular religious services or activities.”
On Thursday, state Representative Nick DiCeglie (R, Indian Rocks Beach) filed a House companion, House Bill 215, which reiterates that an emergency lockdown or shutdown order must apply equally across businesses and religious institutions.
The bill, a shockingly concise one-pager, says
An emergency order…may not expressly prohibit a religious institution from conducting regular religious services or activities. However, a general provision in an emergency order which applies uniformly to all entities in the affected jurisdiction may be applied to a religious institution if the provision is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
I’ll go them one further. Keeping our economy open and running is an essential service. Unless bombs are falling, there is no emergency that justifies shutting down, damaging our economy, destroying businesses, destroying livelihoods, even lives.
On the contrary, an open and operating economy is the best means of dealing with the emergency because that keeps operational the ability to generate the weal and mechanisms necessary to bring the emergency quickly and efficiently to a favorable conclusion.
The bill can be read here (the bill actually spills onto a second page by one line).