On Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on a previous executive order aimed at preventing governmental entities in Texas from requiring COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite the order, however, numerous large employers have ramped up their plans to require employees to receive the injection. A mandate at Houston Methodist Hospital, for example, has earned media attention after a series of so-far unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn the policy.
Legislation has been filed that would prohibit such policies, but Abbott had been silent up until now on whether or not he would support those bills.
In a statement to the The Texas Tribune on Wednesday, a spokesman for Abbott said employers should have been able to mandate COVID-19 vaccines on their employees, saying, “Private businesses don’t need government running their business.”
During the regular legislative session earlier this year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 968, which prohibits governments from issuing vaccine passports and businesses from requiring COVID vaccines from their customers. The legislation does not address employers, however.
Some of Abbott’s opponents in the upcoming Republican primary election have taken aim at Abbott’s inaction on the issue.
“Vaccine mandates and passports are an invasion of the health and privacy of Texans,” former State Sen. Don Huffines told Texas Scorecard. “Government exists to protect the rights of Texans, not to force them to surrender them in order to access public services or waive them for employment. When I am governor, I will always fight to ensure that no government or business has the ability to bully Texans into taking a vaccine or drug they do not wish to take.”
Texas humorist and media personality Chad Prather said, “We need leadership to take a stand on these issues and actually fight back.”
“It was never easier to take a stand than it was in the beginning. And yes, we knew it was a political response to a medical issue from day one. There will also never be an easier day to take a stand than today; tomorrow will be more difficult, next year will be worse, and when the feds show up at your door, you will be too worn down or already running with your tail between your legs. History matters.”
Despite the issue of employer-mandated vaccines not currently being on the call for the special session, two bills have been filed to prevent the mandates: House Bill 24 by State Rep. Candy Noble (R–Lucas) and House Bill 125 by State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington).
With less than two weeks left in the session, neither bill appears to be receiving traction in the House.