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Texas lawmakers and businesses speak out against bills 'interfering with local governments,' Gov. Abbott's executive orders

The group spoke about Senate Bill 14, House Bill 10 and Abbott's COVID-19-related executive orders at a press conference Friday.

AUSTIN, Texas — Some Texas lawmakers, along with the Workers Defense Action Fund, Texas AFL-CIO and Local Progress, are asking members of the Texas Legislature to oppose “laws that interfere with local governments’ authority to care for their communities.” The groups hosted a press conference Friday, Aug. 13.

Those two bills are Senate Bill 14 and House Bill 10. SB14 passed in the State Senate on Aug. 11 during the Legislature’s second special session.

SB14 is related to “the regulation by a municipality or county of certain employment benefits and policies.” The bill prohibits local governments from creating policies regarding employment leave, hiring practices, employment benefits, scheduling practices and more in conflict with federal or state law.

The bill says any ordinance, order, rule, regulation or policy that violates this would become “void and unenforceable.”

It does not affect the ability of a political subdivision to negotiate employment or the Texas Minimum Wage Act. It also doesn't apply to employment contracts between a private entity and a governmental entity. 

SB14 defines employment benefits as “anything of value that an employee receives from an employer beyond regular salary or wages.”

Last year, I, like many construction workers in this state, became sick with COVID,” Vice President of the Workers Defense Board Claudia Golinelli said in a statement. “I am here today because I don’t want any other family to have to suffer what my family suffered last year. We need our government leaders to be able to take every action necessary to keep us safe. State legislators should not tie the hands of local officials who want to keep their communities safe.”

HB10 is SB14’s companion bill. However, no action can currently be taken in the Texas State House as the majority of House Democrats are continuing to break quorum.  

These groups are also asking Gov. Greg Abbott to take back his executive orders regarding COVID-19, masking and vaccinations.

RELATED: Austin-Travis County leaders issue mask orders for public schools, City and County buildings

Abbott passed an Executive Order GA-38 in July stating no government entity can require or mandate masks or require proof of vaccination. Several school districts and local governments have taken action directly against the order.

“Every single one of the 254 counties and more than 1,200 cities in this state has unique needs, even in terms of this pandemic,” Travis County Judge Andy Brown said in a statement. “As an elected official, I took an oath to execute the duties of the office we are entrusted to take on by the people. The governor has overreached in his authority as he doesn’t have the authority to limit counties, cities, and school districts the ability to respond to emergencies. We cannot allow this state interference. Local governments must be able to do what they need to protect our communities.”

RELATED: Pflugerville ISD will not mandate masks for the school year

“As a local leader, I know it’s my responsibility to help in this crisis, no matter what,” Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said in a statement. “Local officials from every corner of Texas are giving it their all to save lives. All we are asking is for the governor to help or to get out of the way.”

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