Gov. Greg Abbott says he will allow the state’s COVID-19 disaster declaration to expire following the passage of legislation to prohibit state and local governments from mandating masks, vaccines, or business closures.
Senate Bill 29 by State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury) prohibits state agencies and local governments from requiring individuals to wear a face mask, receive a vaccine, or keep their businesses closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or its variants.
SB 29 was one of Abbott’s legislative emergency items announced during his February State of the State address and he has promised over the course of the past six months to end the disaster declaration as soon as legislation is passed to protect citizens from government overreach.
“More than a month after Biden’s COVID emergency declaration was lifted, Texas is finally free of its disaster orders,” Michelle Evans, Legislative Director of Texans for Vaccine Choice, told Texas Scorecard.
Indeed, Texas is currently the only Republican-led state to still be under a state of emergency for COVID. An emergency declaration can only be issued for up to 30 days at a time. Since it was first issued, however, Abbott has repeatedly extended it every month.
“Though this is a long overdue and necessary step forward, TFVC would like to remind legislators and the Governor that vaccine mandates are still permissible in Texas, due to the failure of the House to pass a meaningful ban on these violations of medical liberty,” said Evans.
While TFVC is continuing to call for a special session to end all mandates in Texas, State Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) has promised to refile the “COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act,”––which would have required anyone administering a COVID-19 vaccine to obtain the recipient’s informed consent beforehand, authorized the attorney general to enforce this restriction, and violators would have been required to pay damages of at least $5,000––in each special session called, no matter the subject of the call.
Because #txlege House failed to act, COVID vaccine mandates still exist & Texans can still be forcibly vaccinated or fired.
That. Must. End.
— Brian Harrison (@brianeharrison) June 12, 2023
The COVID-19 disaster declaration was first issued by Gov. Greg Abbott on March 13, 2020, and became the basis for numerous COVID-related executive orders, including business shutdowns and mask mandates—all without input from the state Legislature. As Texas began to reopen, executive orders were issued in an attempt to prohibit local entities from implementing more stringent requirements.
Now, more than three years later, the disaster declaration will finally be allowed to expire.