After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hinted that he would call several special legislative sessions this year, one Republican lawmaker promised to continue promoting vaccine choice.

State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian) said he would reintroduce the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act during every special session Abbott calls.

At the close of the 88th regular legislative session, Abbott called a special session to focus on border security and property tax relief.

During special sessions, lawmakers can only focus on issues the governor deems a priority.

Agenda items for the first special session include:

  • Property Taxes: Legislation to cut property-tax rates solely by reducing the school district maximum compressed tax rate in order to provide lasting property-tax relief for Texas taxpayers.
  • Border Security: Legislation solely for the purpose of increasing or enhancing the penalties for certain criminal conduct involving the smuggling of persons or the operation of a stash house.

However, Harrison said lawmakers should prioritize vaccine choice, adding that he promises to continue advancing the issue.

“Since, during the Regular Session, the Texas House chose to allow Texans to be forced to take a COVID vaccine or be fired, I will continue to file the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act every special session even if the Governor does not add it to the call,” said Harrison. “Medical freedom is worth fighting for.”

During the regular legislative session, Harrison filed House Bill 81, which would have required anyone administering a COVID-19 vaccine to obtain the recipient’s informed consent beforehand. It would have also authorized the attorney general to enforce this restriction, and violators would have been required to pay damages of at least $5,000.

Harrison’s bill died in committee, while House lawmakers failed to approve an identical measure sponsored by State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R–Galveston).

When the House resumed its duties during the first special session, Harrison refiled his legislation as House Bill 20.

Texans for Vaccine Choice Legislative Director Michelle Evans praised Harrison’s efforts and called for lawmakers to prioritize vaccine freedom.

“By failing to pass The Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act, the Texas Legislature left Texans vulnerable to draconian vaccine mandates,” Evans told Texas Scorecard. “Texans for Vaccine Choice deeply appreciates Representative Harrison’s dogged pursuit of medical liberty and stands ready to support his efforts throughout upcoming special sessions.”

During the special session, Harrison filed several other bills addressing border security and property tax relief. He also condemned his fellow lawmakers for failing to advance conservative priorities during the regular session.

“The Texas Legislature failed the people of Texas by not passing numerous conservative priorities, including property tax relief and border security,” said Harrison. “Gov. Abbott is right to call us back immediately. However, we must resist the temptation to simply pass bills containing those words in their titles and enact bold reforms like the ones l’m re-filing today.”

The Texas House approved a property tax relief measure as well as the requested border security measure, and the chamber adjourned the first special session after just one day.

The Texas Senate will take up Abbott’s priorities later this week.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.