As of the time of posting, more than 1000 bills and resolutions have been filed in the opening days of the pre-filing period. Even if that’s not a record, it certainly feels like one. There are some common themes, many of which are left over from last session: the COVID-19 emergency, election fraud, Medicaid expansion, property tax exemptions and caps on increases in residential homestead values, and school finance. The social issues are back, with abortion, same-sex marriage, and gender identity leading the way.
We’re only about one-third of the way through them, but our concern that employer liability and workers’ compensation bills (good or bad) would become a major feature of the session does not appear to be misplaced. Here are a few of the proposals offered so far:
HB 27 by Goodwin (D-Austin): Adds Chapter 142B, Civil Practice & Remedies Code, to bar civil actions and disciplinary proceedings against an employer based solely on the employer’s choice to offer or provide a particular employee benefit. Does not create or expand a cause of action.
HB 79 by Talarico (D-Pflugerville)/HB 528 by Wu (D-Houston): Adds Chapter 25, Labor Code, to prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee for taking time off to serve as required by law on an inquest jury or trial jury, if the employee gives reasonable notice prior to the required service. Prohibits employment discrimination against an employee who is the victim of a crime and takes time off to appear in court under a subpoena. Prohibits employment discrimination against an employee who takes time off to obtain injunctive relief to help ensure the health, safety, or welfare of the victim or their child. Requires the employee to provide certification to the employer of the reason the employee took time off. Prohibits employment discrimination against an employee who is the victim of a crime or abuse, if the employee provides notice or the employer has actual notice. Requires an employer to make reasonable accommodations for a victim of domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault if the victim requests it.
HB 81 by Harrison (R-Midlothian): Prohibits a person from compelling or coercing an individual lawfully residing in the state into obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination contrary to the individual’s vaccination preference. Requires a health care provider to obtain an informed consent for a COVID vaccine. Prohibits a person from taking an adverse action based on the person’s refusal to obtain a COVID vaccine. Authorizes the attorney general to obtain injunctive relief against a person to prevent a violation of this act. Imposes civil liability against a health care provider of $5,000 and allows recovery of all costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
HB 90 by Patterson (R-Frisco): Amends Chapter 401, Labor Code, to include members of the Texas military forces to the same benefits under the workers’ compensation system as first responders.
HB 102 by S. Thompson (D-Houston): Amends § 408.001(b), Labor Code, to permit a decedent’s estate to recovery exemplary damages based on the employer’s gross negligence.
HB 138 by Toth (R-The Woodlands): Prohibits an employer from taking an adverse employment action or discriminating against an employee based on the nondisclosure by the employee of personal health information. Imposes a civil penalty of $50,000 on an employer for a violation, enforceable by the attorney general.
HB 234 by Bernal (D-San Antonio): Requires sales price disclosure of commercial and industrial property in the instrument conveying the property, subject to a penalty of 5% of the sales price. Enforceable by the attorney general or county or district attorney.
HB 121 by Vasut (R-Angleton): Prohibits a city or county from adopting or enforcing an ordinance or other rule or policy that exceed or conflict with federal or state law relating to employment issues, including leave, hiring practices, benefits, scheduling practices, or other terms of employment. Similar to SB 130 by Campbell (R-San Antonio).