The Texas House will bring several bills to the floor for a vote on Wednesday, October 25, several weeks into the third special session.
The House Calendars Committee, chaired by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), approved four bills for consideration by the full House. The four items include two Senate bills and two bills that originated in the House.
Specifically, the House will debate SB 7, authored by Sen. Mayes Middleton (R-Galveston), which would protect workers from being required by their employers to get the COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment.
As reported by The Dallas Express, the Senate moved quickly on this bill, holding a hearing almost immediately following the start of the special session.
Sen. Middleton asserted the legislation is “about protecting personal liberty” and preventing people from being forced to choose “between making a living for their family and taking a vaccine.”
The Senate then brought the item to a vote and passed it during the first week of the session, sending the bill over to the House, where it has remained for nearly two weeks.
Michelle Evans, the political director for Texans for Vaccine Choice, criticized the House for allegedly dragging their feet compared to the Senate on important legislative decisions.
“There is simply no valid excuse – and, frankly, no time – for idleness during a time-restricted special session,” she said. “We have witnessed the House gavel in & out [within] minutes instead of doing the business they have been elected to do.”
The House has received extensive criticism, even from its own members, for killing legislation identical to SB 7 during the regular session by letting the clock run out and effectively letting it die.
Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) said it is “Absolute insanity that Texas still allows [COVID] vaccine mandates.”
“The [Texas] Senate passed a bill to ban them last session,” he continued, “but the Texas House Calendars Committee KILLED that bill.”
The other three items to be considered by the House all deal with the pressing issue of border security.
From the upper chamber, SB 4 would increase the state penalties concerning human smuggling and the operation of stash houses, as reported by The Dallas Express. Likewise, House Bill 4 would create a state penalty for unlawful entry and presence in the state, authorizing the deportation of said person by Texas law enforcement.
Lastly, HB 6 would appropriate more money for the continued construction of border barriers by the state.