The Texas legislature is winding down its third special session. Despite strained relationships between the chambers and leadership offices, progress is being made.
It appears the ban on private businesses requiring employees and contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine will pass. In accordance with the mandate ban, the Texas Workforce Commission is responsible for handling complaints against businesses. Violators will be subject to hefty fines and/or lawsuits brought by the state. The legislation passed both the House and Senate and is now headed to a conference committee for fine-tuning before it is submitted to the Governor.
The Governor’s border security measures are also looking favorable for passage. Three bills are working through the process and will likely reach his desk:
- H.B. 4: Creating a new crime for individuals illegally entering Texas from Mexico and empowering law enforcement to apprehend, arrest and send back those caught here illegally;
- H.B. 6: Appropriating $1.5 billion to build barriers along the Texas-Mexico border; and
- S.B. 4: Increasing minimum sentences from 2-10 years for knowingly smuggling illegal immigrants and/or operating a stash house for smuggling individuals across the Texas border.
Education Savings Accounts, commonly referred to as vouchers, are not likely to pass. IBAT expects a fourth special session to address this divisive issue, along with several bills vetoed at the end of the regular session.