AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas laws continue making headlines across the country. Here are some of the biggest stories from the Lone Star State this week.
‘No entity in Texas’
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a widely publicized total ban on any mandated COVID-19 vaccines in Texas.
In an executive order, Abbott wrote: “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
The order is in conflict with Pres. Joe Biden’s executive order requiring employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations for workers — which the governor calls “federal overreach” and “bullying” of business owners.
In September, Abbott said: ““The federal government needs to stop trying to run private businesses. Texans and Americans alike have learned and mastered the safe practices to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID, and do not need the government to tell them how to do so.”
Meanwhile, national advocacy organization Committee to Protect Health Care said Abbott’s decision is an example of government inserting itself in health care.
“Texas is all about business and individual businesses should be able to set policies for their employees,” said Dr. Joanna Schwartz, an Austin pediatric emergency specialist. “People don’t always make the best decision. A lot of people are fueled by misinformation that’s available on the internet on social media.”
Many are worried Abbott’s ban will only confuse Texas business owners, who now don’t know whether to listen to President Biden or Governor Abbott.
“If I can tell you I’m gonna listen to the Biden administration, I’ll be in trouble with the state. If I can tell you I’m gonna listen to Governor Abbott, then I’ll be in trouble with the national mandate,” said Vijay Patel, CEO of Humble Origins Hospitality, which owns/operates several Austin-area hotels. “So we’re totally confused.”
Remnants from Hurricane Pamela pushed through Central Texas Wednesday night, impacting first the Hill Country and then the Austin Metro into Thursday night.
Heavy rains led to some significant flooding in several areas, mostly in the Hill Country. Several area school districts started classes late on Thursday, including in Hays County, Wimberley, and Lockhart.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office made five water rescues Thursday morning, mostly near La Grange. The city had more than eight inches of rain, causing several vehicles to get stuck in high waters.
While Austin was mostly spared of flooding, Barton Springs Pool closed Thursday while crews assessed any possible damage. It’s not yet known when the pool will reopen.
Abortion ban goes on
On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled to allow Texas’ controversial bill banning abortions after the six-week period — meaning the legislation could be headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While Senate Bill 8 does not outline a specific timeline of when such abortions would be prohibited, a fetal heartbeat can be detected as soon as six weeks into the pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.
The Republican-backed law allows any Texas citizen to sue physicians or anyone who aids in or abets an abortion for up to $10,000, if a heartbeat was detected in the womb at the time of the abortion.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals extended a previous order allowing SB 8 to stand. It’s the third time the court has ruled this way. For opponents of the bill, the fight goes on.