Abbott’s vaccine mandate bill, Trump’s election audit die in Texas Legislature

While the GOP passed nearly everything it wanted, two high-profile proposals failed

KSAT12's Fares Sabawi joins GMSA@9 to discuss two high-profile proposals that failed in the Texas Legislature.

Texas Republicans largely got what they wanted during the third special session in the state legislature.

They did their best to solidify their long-running majority for the next decade during the redistricting process, passed a controversial transgender sports bill that failed to pass in previous sessions, and pushed through a last-minute constitutional amendment proposal that would lower property tax bills.

But the GOP didn’t complete everything on Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda during the third special session, namely former President Donald Trump’s preferred election audit bill and the governor’s proposal to ban private businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.

Though he won in Texas during the 2020 presidential election, Trump called on Abbott to add an election audit bill on the agenda of the third special session. During special sessions, the governor has the authority to determine what lawmakers can consider during the 30-day period.

Trump specifically touted HB 116, which would allow candidates to request explanations and documentation over any alleged irregularity in the election. It would also allow them to submit an audit request to the secretary of state.

Despite the pressure, Abbott did not add the audit to the special session agenda, dooming the bill’s chances.

He did appease Trump on another demand, however, asking lawmakers to increase penalties on illegal voting. That bill also died, stalling in the Texas House.

Another late addition to the special session agenda was Abbott’s proposal to ban all entities, including private businesses, from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees or customers.

Though that policy is currently in effect under Abbott’s executive order, the governor was hoping the legislature would enshrine it into law.

But the proposal was heavily criticized by business groups that said that the law would encroach on private business rights and further engulf businesses in a conflict between state and federal mandates.

As governor, Abbott has the authority to call another special session that would force lawmakers to reconsider the proposals.

“The governor, I will say, has intimated that there might be a fourth special session,” University of Texas-San Antonio Political Science Prof. Jon Taylor previously told KSAT.

Abbott has so far refused to answer questions about whether he will take that step.

Read more:

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About the Author:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.