Cruise control. The already-battered cruise ship industry is now caught between conflicting federal and state rules in Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 95 percent of passengers must be vaccinated for cruise ships to sail again without certain restrictions. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said requiring any passenger vaccinations "violates the spirit" of his executive order forbidding vaccine passports and of a recently passed Florida law banning vaccine passports set to take effect July 1. Asking for passengers' vaccine statuses could subject cruise ships to massive fines, he said.
The Celebrity Edge is supposed to be the first to voyage again with non-volunteer passengers, after U.S. cruise ships have been docked for more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic. Celebrity Cruises announced Wednesday that the CDC had approved it taking off from Fort Lauderdale on June 26, so long as 95 percent of passengers and 98 percent of the crew were vaccinated against COVID-19.
Celebrity Cruises said it will require all crew members to be vaccinated, along with all U.S. passengers ages 16 and older for now, and as of August 1, all guests ages 12 and above.
Not so fast, said DeSantis. "Celebrity Cruises' vaccine requirements violate the spirit of the Governor's Emergency Order 21-81, which prohibits vaccine passports and protects the fundamental rights of Floridians – including the right to medical privacy," DeSantis said in a statement. "The policy would also be a violation of Florida's recently enacted law banning vaccine passports, SB 2006, effective July 1. Companies doing business in Florida, including Celebrity Cruises, should immediately cease to impose such discriminatory policies upon individuals. Companies that violate this law would be subject to a fine of $5,000 each time they require a customer to present a 'vaccine passport' for service."
How Celebrity Cruises will respond is still unknown. "One cruise company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has threatened to move its ships out of Florida if the law keeps them from requiring passengers to be vaccinated," The Washington Post reported.
Some have been framing Florida's stance in this battle over customer vaccination requirements as a boon for civil liberties and small government. But state government interfering in what safety rules private businesses can or can't set for customers is just big government authoritarianism of another variety. Ideally, whether or not a company requires customers to be vaccinated would be left up to individual companies.
Of course, things are complicated here by the CDC. The health agency says cruise ships that don't require most passengers and staff to be vaccinated must conduct all-volunteer test cruises before accepting paying passengers and must still enforce mask rules and social distancing requirements.
It's unclear how cruise ships would treat vaccination requirements absent the federal health agency's rules and Florida's meddling. Conceivably, some cruise lines would welcome unvaccinated passengers right away and some would not (or perhaps set different requirements for different ships), allowing them to appeal to customers of diverging concerns and risk levels. Unfortunately, both the federal government and Florida's government are incapable of letting businesses and customers make this decision for themselves.
Support high for satanic pedophile conspiracy theory. Fifteen percent of people in a new Public Religion Research Institute poll say "the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation." That conspiracy theory is a core part of the QAnon movement. Belief in this statement among Republican respondents was at 23 percent; for Democrats, it was 8 percent and for independents, 14 percent.
The poll also saw 15 percent of all respondents agreeing that "because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country." Broken down by political ideology, agreement was highest among Republicans (28 percent), followed by independents (13 percent) and Democrats (7 percent).
Multistate Worker Tax Fairness Act would prevent double-taxing for teleworkers. Soon-to-be introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate would ensure that workers whose employer is headquartered in a state where they neither live nor work will not be taxed in that state. It's sponsored by New Hampshire Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen and "establishes a simple, uniform federal standard based on a worker's physical presence," explains their press release.
Called the Multistate Worker Tax Fairness Act, it "prohibits a state from imposing an income tax on the compensation a nonresident earns when that person is not physically in the state, and it ensures that people with out-of-state employers who telework, or whose job requires them to occasionally work in another state, do not have to pay out-of-state income taxes."
Similar legislation was introduced in 2014, 2016, and 2020, but failed to advance.
Today, as acting Governor of the State of Idaho, I signed an Executive Order to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions — including public schools — from imposing mask mandates in our state. #idpol pic.twitter.com/Nmb6DX9v6X
— Janice McGeachin (@JaniceMcGeachin) May 27, 2021
• The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has thrown out a case challenging a federal ban on bump stocks.
• The New York Times looks at the movement to remove highways from the middle of cities: "As midcentury highways reach the end of their life spans, cities across the country are having to choose whether to rebuild or reconsider them. And a growing number, like Rochester, are choosing to take them down."
• Freedom needs better stories, suggests John Hood for Reason.
• "Senate Republicans are poised to block the creation of a special commission to study the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol," notes the Associated Press. "A vote on the procedural motion was bumped to Friday."
• Why didn't California's "red flag" law stop the San Jose shooter?
• Kurt Loder reviews A Quiet Place Part II.
• Tennessee's bathroom sign law sponsor admits it comes with criminal penalties. The law—which was signed by Gov. Bill Lee on May 17—says businesses that won't strictly segregate bathrooms by sex must post signs announcing this. Republican Rep. Tim Rudd, who sponsored the law, said in March that it "does not provide any fines or penalties." But Rudd now admits that businesses that don't comply could be subject to jail time and fines, since the measure was inserted into a part of the state's building code that makes it a misdemeanor crime.