The most recent special legislative session concluded just three weeks ago, and the list of lawmakers who have publicly announced their support for a special session to address vaccine mandates continues to grow.
Though the issue of prohibiting employer vaccine mandates was eventually added to the agenda by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, it was on Day 22 of the 30-day special session, leaving almost no time for its consideration even though several pieces of legislation were filed to that effect before it was officially added to the agenda. Ultimately, the session concluded without the Legislature addressing the issue.
Employer Vaccine Mandates
On November 4, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released their official rule requiring large employers to mandate that employees subject themselves to one of the COVID-19 regimens or face weekly testing, continued mask-wearing, and possible fines and penalties.
The Biden administration indicated that this rule preempts any state-level law or executive order that prohibits such mandates.
Since the conclusion of the recent special legislative session, Texas has seen its share of major corporations (including American Airlines, Union-Pacific Railroad, and Southwest Airlines) ignore the executive order Abbott issued in conjunction with the unsuccessful prohibition of such activity to the agenda.
The Republican Party of Texas came out in support of calling yet another special session on multiple issues, including a prohibition on employer vaccine mandates. They cited the rapid speed at which other states are tackling the issue.
Matt Rinaldi, the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, said:
Tennessee has already completed a three-day session to address mandates, and Florida is calling a five-day session later this month. Texas must help lead the way.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, joined by a coalition of states and employers, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on the mandates. A few days later, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 5th Circuit granted an emergency stay against the OSHA rules, but it amounts to nothing but a brief halt in the mandate pending further litigation.
Abbott has so far been reluctant to compel lawmakers to return, stating that his executive order seeking to ban vaccine mandates is sufficient. Republican State Rep. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) has said that the issue of banning vaccine mandates has “no support” from the governor.
What are Abbott’s Challengers Saying?
Abbott is defiant, despite the fact that all of his Republican challengers continue to voice their support for a special session.
Conservative humorist Chad Prather recently took to Twitter to voice his support.
Call a fourth legislative session NOW! Waiting will be too late. Texas must fight these Biden mandates. People are losing everything by standing up for what’s right and not allowing their bodies to be violated against their will. Do the right thing @GregAbbott_TX
— Chad Prather (@WatchChad) November 11, 2021
Former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West also recently held a press conference to voice his support for a special session.
Former State Sen. Don Huffines tweeted:
Thank you for leading on this Brian. I agree. https://t.co/bnKNIXJMEB
— Don Huffines (@DonHuffines) November 11, 2021
Lawmakers Requesting an Additional Special Legislative Session
The list currently includes:
State Sen. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood)
State Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R–Fredericksburg)
State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park)
State Rep. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford)
State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Waxahachie)
State Rep. Matt Krause (R–Haslet)
State Rep. Jeff Leach (R–Allen)
State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Galveston)
State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler)
State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R–Plano)
State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City)
State Rep. Valoree Swanson (R–Spring)
State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington)
State Rep. Steve Toth (R–The Woodlands)
State Rep. Cody Vasut (R–Angleton)
State Rep. James White (R–Hillister)