Texas Businesses Confused After Governor Bans Vaccine Mandates
By Cassidy Ellison
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that bans Texas businesses from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for its employees or customers.
There is a $1,000 maximum fine for those who do not comply with the order. Abbott’s new order came a month after the Biden administration issued an executive order that requires federal contractors to get vaccinated. The governor’s order also calls for businesses with more than 100 employees to require the shot or regular testing.
Texas businesses are left puzzled on how to approach vaccines since Governor Greg Abbott’s new order goes against the federal government. Businesses can either disregard Abbott’s order and comply with federal law or comply with Abbott and decline the business from the federal government.
Southwest and American Airlines, both based in Texas, said they will continue to require their employees to be vaccinated despite Abbott’s executive order.
“According to the president’s executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president’s order to remain compliant as a federal contractor,” a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said.
However, other federal contractors are still weighing their options. For Texas nursing homes which have already struggled in high death tolls of residents and maintaining a workforce during the pandemic, compliance with Abbott’s new order could risk the loss of federal funding. A federal ruling from August requires all nursing home staff to be vaccinated in order to continue partaking in Medicaid and Medicare programs.
Sen. John Cornyn (R – Texas) said he is curious to see what state lawmakers decide since Abbott added the issue to this special session’s agenda.
“As a recovering lawyer, and a recovering judge and former attorney general, I think the limitations placed on government by our constitution are important to protecting our individual freedom. So I think that debate will occur where it needs to occur, which is in the halls of the legislature,” Cornyn said.
There is only one week left in the Texas legislature’s current special session and bills to make Abbott’s order a state law have already been filed. The first of these bills was set for a committee hearing Wednesday.