AUSTIN (KXAN) — With about a week and a half left in the third special session, a handful of Republican state lawmakers want to see action taken on COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The legislators on Thursday asked Gov. Greg Abbott to add mandates to an already busy special session slate that includes redistricting, COVID-19 funding, property tax relief, and the recent addition of increased penalties for election crimes.
The group Guardians of Medical Choice held a news conference which included remarks by Republican representatives including Steve Toth, Briscoe Cain, and Mayes Middleton, along with Sen. Bob Hall.
All have filed legislation that would either ban employer-mandated vaccinations, or allow for exemptions over moral or religious reasons, or “reasons of conscience.” In total, 19 bills have been filed by GOP lawmakers to date, according to records.
So far, vaccine mandates have failed to make the cut when it comes to Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s legislative priorities. KXAN spoke with Sen. Hall and asked why he thinks that is.
“There are people who have convinced themselves that we don’t regulate business,” Hall said. “Most campaign donations come from the business community.”
Political science and communication professor Dr. Richard Pineda called mandates a “red meat” issue for conservatives but said it was unlikely it would be added to the special session.
“I just don’t think the governor is going to want to take what’s going to be an already complicated session and try to add that to the mix,” he told KXAN.
Pineda added that the federal government could step in and take legal action against Texas, as it has over the state’s new abortion bill.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced it would require businesses of 100 or more people to mandate vaccinations for its workers. The president took his message on the road Thursday, traveling to Chicago.
“We know there is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of Americans vaccinated,” Biden said. “It’s as simple as that.”