On Monday, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning "any entity" in the Lone Star state from enforcing a COVID vaccine mandate. In a press release, he explained that while the COVID shot is "effective, and our best defense against the virus," the jab "should remain voluntary and never forced."
Fox News reported that the executive order prohibiting "any entity" from enforcing vaccine mandates bans anyone in the state from compelling another person "who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience" to get the jab. The new measure also applies to employees and consumers who refuse to receive the coronavirus vaccine because of "religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19."
Gov. Abbott's executive order shall also "supersede any conflicting order" that has been made by local jurisdictions, therefore authorizing the "maximum fine" allowed under laws in Texas for any entity that violates the measure. The 63-year-old Republican leader also called upon Texas Senate and House of Representatives to formally request the legislature to consider drafting new measures that codify a similar order into law.
This appears to be Texas' response to the Biden administration's sweeping COVID vaccine mandate that requires private businesses with 100 or more employees to have their workers get the jab.
"In yet another instance of federal government overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas's continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster," Gov. Abbott said of the Biden administration's COVID vaccine mandate.
Only 52% of Texas residents are fully vaccinated. The Republican governor himself got the COVID vaccine on TV and has previously advocated to get inoculated, the Texas Tribune reported. However, Gov. Abbott has responded to the Delta variant's attack differently, ensuring to keep vaccine and mask mandates from schools and offices despite the spike in new cases and hospitalizations.
Don Huffines, a former Dallas state senator who has been putting pressure on Gov. Abbott to fight back against mask and vaccine mandates, celebrated the new executive order prohibiting "any entity" from enforcing vaccine mandates, saying, "I am very pleased to see that our campaign has forced Greg Abbott to reverse his position on this important issue."
State of Reform reported in September that Texas lawmakers have filed up to nine bills that cover vaccine mandates. Senate Bill 14, which was filed by Republican Senator Bob Hall of Dallas, empowers those who are "subject to government-mandated vaccination requirements to seek injunctive relief in district court and be reimbursed for litigation costs."
Similarly, Senate Bill 13 also from Sen. Hall prohibits a government vaccine requirement but allows one for state employees. It also allows for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. Rep. Bryan Slaton's House Bill 33 was designed to prohibit companies and hospitals from requiring its workers to be vaccinated against COVID or be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and lose their license for five years.
Senate Bill 11 from Sen. Hall prevents discrimination by employers based on a person's vaccine status for his or her employment. Finally, Sen. Hall's Senate Bill 12 orders that those who experience "injury caused by an adverse reaction" to COVID vaccines as a result of an employer's vaccine mandate are entitled to worker's compensation.