Bill to ban employer vaccine mandates fails in Texas legislature

A bill that would have banned employers from requiring employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus failed in the Texas Legislature. The legislation was defeated Tuesday morning just before state lawmakers adjourned the third special legislative session.

The bill was reported favorably out of committee but was not approved by the entire upper chamber. The House version of the bill was unable make it out of committee.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order last week banning any “entity in Texas” from implementing vaccine mandates.

When he signed the order, Abbott also added the issue to the legislature’s agenda for the special session. The governor said that the executive order would have been revoked once the legislation was passed.

S.B. 51 would have required employers to allow an individual to claim an exemption to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine based on “a medical condition or reasons of conscience, including a religious belief,” according to its text.

The bill would have further made it unlawful to not hire, discharge, or “otherwise discriminates against an individual with respect to the compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the individual claims an exemption.”

The legislation would have also banned governmental entities, political subdivisions, and schools and universities from mandating vaccinations.

After the bill was introduced last week, more than two dozen medical and business groups pushed back against it. Among the groups were the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Association of Manufacturers. 

The legislation’s failure comes as businesses take center stage in the state’s fight against the White House over vaccine mandate.   

Several Texas-based companies, including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have said they would defy Abbott’s order to comply with President Biden’s mandate that companies with at least 100 employees require vaccines or weekly testing. 

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