Late Tuesday evening, the House State Affairs Committee unanimously passed out yet another revision to the Texas Pandemic Response Act, or House Bill 3. The bill is authored by State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock) and was originally heard on March 11 but had been left pending for almost two months.
Attorney and former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi said this regarding the new version of the bill:
Though it is a marked improvement over the original version of the bill, it still endorses lockdowns and mask mandates as pandemic responses. With HB 3, House Republicans are endorsing the biggest policy mistake and invasion of personal liberties in our lifetime and setting the stage for it to happen again.
Thus far, the House of Representatives has generally been reluctant to bring up any of the currently filed bills that seek to reform executive authorities. The Texas Senate has passed bills seeking to reform the governor’s interpreted and controversial authorities as well as that of local governments in times of emergency.
In response to the original filing of the bill, many conservative activists across the state decried the perpetuation of disputed authorities used by Gov. Greg Abbott in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With one week left before a self-imposed deadline in the Texas House of Representatives preventing the further consideration of House bills (May 13), the prospects of the bill going forward are uncertain. Given that the bill is a legislative priority of House Speaker Dade Phelan’s and authored by the chairman of the House Calendars Committee, it is likely the bill will be set on a calendar between now and next Thursday for the overall House to consider.
The new revision of the bill can be read below: