During the legislative session in 2021, Texas State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Brenham Republican, filed multiple measures to put an end to COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
With ending COVID-related mandates being an emergency priority for the Legislature, Kolkhorst has once again filed a series of measures targeting them.
Though most of the COVID-era vestiges disappeared since 2020, there are still lasting effects of the Chinese virus that the Legislature has not yet been addressed.
Countless people were fired from their jobs or not allowed to return to school because they refused to get the controversial COVID vaccine, and many were refused entry to businesses based on their decision not to wear a face mask.
“This series of bills will put an end, once and for all, to ineffective and crushing restrictions on our personal liberties that we saw during COVID-19,” said Kolkhorst. “One of the most important actions we take is to learn from our lessons and make sure we put safeguards in place for future generations. This legislation is aimed at preventing future repeats of these controversial public health measures, which did little to slow the spread of the virus and did serious damage to the economy and education systems.”
Senate Bill 1024 seeks to codify protections from Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive orders in 2021, which prevent government entities and employers from mandating vaccines and mask-wearing.
Senate Bill 1025 prevents any adjustments to the current vaccine schedule for schools unless the changes are made by the state’s Legislature.
Often, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) influences or guides states’ school vaccine schedules. After the CDC added the COVID-19 shot to school vaccine schedules, some Texas legislators—including State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian)—are working to prevent the CDC from having a say in Texas vaccine schedules ever again.
Kolkhorst’s measure would “ensure the COVID-19 vaccine remains off the Texas Minimum State Vaccine Requirements for Students as a requirement for admission to elementary or secondary public schools, and institutions of higher education may not require students be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their enrollment or attendance.”
Lastly, Kolkhorst filed Senate Bill 1026 to expand another executive order issued by Abbott in 2021.
Abbott’s order prevented government entities in Texas from requiring proof of vaccination from individuals. However, this only applied to government entities, which meant that healthcare workers, airline employees, and military members were forced to resign or were terminated for refusing the vaccine.
Kolkhorst’s legislation would expand that protection so that no employer, government entity, school, or college can require proof of vaccination from anyone.
“Texans should not be losing their jobs, their pensions, or their ability to earn a living because they refused a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Kolkhorst. “Similarly, flu shots are not mandated but strongly encouraged. That should be the same application to COVID-19 but it has been treated differently.”
The measure also prevents licensed facilities from prioritizing or discriminating against patients for treatment based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.
“No patient should be denied life-saving care or surgery because of their vaccination status, as has been the case in some Texas hospitals,” Kolkhorst said. “Never again should government be able to abandon our rights and freedoms in the name of public health. These bills see that Texas remains free of lockdowns, masking mandates, and COVID-19 vaccination requirements.”
Texans for Vaccine Choice Legislative Director Michelle Evans told Texas Scorecard, “TFVC is extremely grateful for Chairwoman Kolkhorst’s efforts to protect Texans’ medical liberty by filing SBs 1024, 1025, and 1026. As one of the most knowledgeable legislators in the area of public health policy, Senator Kolkhorst is especially qualified to help a post-pandemic Texas course-correct and put into practice the lessons we learned over the last three years.”
“These comprehensive bills would place Texas in the lead amongst other states by defending vaccine choice, ensuring unelected bureaucrats are unable to dictate vaccine policy, protecting medical privacy, and prohibiting tyrannical mandates,” Evans continued.
Sen. Kolkhorst’s legislation goes hand in hand with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s priority to ban local COVID-19 mandates this session.
The Texas Senate is adjourned until Tuesday, February 28.