A Texas House member reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit businesses from requiring their employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates was never brought to the floor during the regular session that ended on Monday.
However, Gov. Greg Abbott declared he would call multiple special sessions to tackle policy priorities of his that went unaddressed the last few months. The first session, which began Monday night, is focused on property taxes and border security, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.
Despite the special session’s intended purpose, Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) took the opportunity to reintroduce the Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act.
“Since, during the Regular Session, the Texas House chose to allow Texans to be forced to take a COVID vaccine or be fired, I will continue to file the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act every special session even if the Governor does not add it to the call,” Harrison said in a statement. “Medical freedom is worth fighting for.”
His statement claimed that employers throughout Texas, including CVS and “virtually all healthcare entities,” require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He argued that a state law is needed to ban such mandates to protect unvaccinated Texans from losing their jobs.
The Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act would prohibit entities from compelling or coercing others into receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and would make it illegal to administer the vaccine without the recipient giving “informed consent.”
Wednesday marked the third time Harrison has filed the bill, after first filing it in October 2021 and again in November 2022.
He claimed in his statement that the bill had broad bipartisan support but was “prevented from even getting to the House floor for a debate.”
However, the bill has garnered criticism from anti-vaccine-choice activists.
“The question to ask ourselves about legislation like this is, ‘Will this keep Texas kids safe from disease?'” said Terri Burke, executive director of The Immunization Partnership, per Spectrum News.
“This proposal does not,” Burke claimed.
She said Harrison’s bill “intentionally creates roadblocks for the state health agency responsible for keeping kids safe from outbreaks.”
“We don’t have the luxury of dismissing warnings and guidance from qualified medical professionals trained to safeguard our health and well-being,” she added.
Still, other activist groups that promote “medical freedom” have championed the legislation.
Michelle Evans, legislative director for Texans for Vaccine Choice, told Texas Scorecard, “By failing to pass The Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act, the Texas Legislature left Texans vulnerable to draconian vaccine mandates.”
“Texans for Vaccine Choice deeply appreciates Representative Harrison’s dogged pursuit of medical liberty and stands ready to support his efforts throughout upcoming special sessions,” she said.