Labor groups argue that the proposals would hurt Texas workers, who enjoy few protections under state law. Republican-backed bills introduced in both the Texas House and Senate would bar municipalities from passing ordinances to protect workers if those measures include requirements that go beyond existing state laws.
Those two proposals — House Bill 2127 and Senate Bill 814 — have the blessing of Gov. Greg Abbott and a variety of pro-business groups, according to the Texas Tribune. The authors of the bills argue that they’re intended to help small businesses avoid a confusing regulatory morass.Labor groups dispute that claim, arguing that Texas has long lagged other states in providing worker protections, the Tribune reports. Further, union officials caution that the bills would endanger workers by tossing out already-adopted ordinances such as Dallas’ and Austin’s heat-protection rules for construction crews.“[The legislation] goes so far beyond anything we’ve ever seen in this realm before,” Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO told the news organization.
An analysis of the bills by news site The Hill cautions that they could even be broad enough to also apply to cities’ anti-discrimination ordinances and their efforts to curb industrial pollution.
The bills are the latest attempt by Texas’ Republican-controlled state government to rein in the power of its large cities, most of which are led by Democrats.After a court battle, San Antonio was blocked from enforcing a mandatory paid sick leave measure adopted by city council in 2018. Business groups orchestrated successful legal challenges to similar ordinances adopted by Austin and Dallas.
Legal battles also played out during the pandemic as Abbott and other state leaders tried to prevent cities and counties from mandating masks, vaccines and other health protections.