Texas – In a recent turn of events, Senate Bill 29 has progressed to the next stage in the Texas Senate. With a decisive 7-3 vote in its favor, the bill is set to make its way to the full Senate floor for further discussion. The proposed legislation aims to prevent the enforcement of mask and vaccine mandates, while also restricting local governments from shutting down schools and businesses.
During the hearing, State Representative Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) clarified that the bill would apply solely to COVID-19 and its sub-variants, and not to any potential unknown viruses in the future. This comes three years after the pandemic caused widespread business closures and required vaccines and masks in some organizations.
Witnesses presented contrasting viewpoints during the hearing. While Rebecca Hardy, with Texans for Vaccine Choice, emphasized the need to prevent similar mistakes from happening again, Dr. Valerie Smith, speaking on behalf of the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Pediatric Society, raised concerns that limiting local government action could impede future responses to potential outbreaks of COVID-19.
Tom Glass, from the Texas Constitutional Enforcement Group, was resolute in his stance, saying, “I want to get the principles straight for the future so that lockdowns and mandates and vax mandates never again are visited upon the people of Texas.” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, however, expressed concern that the proposed legislation could hinder the ability of doctors to take necessary measures during a potential surge of the virus.
The bill must pass both the Senate and the House before it can make its way to the governor’s desk. Despite the recent progress, Jenkins remains hopeful that the bill does not become law, stating, “We don’t want to have to make anybody wear a mask or do anything, but if the doctors feel in the next surge that something needs to happen to keep people safe, we need to listen to science.”
In conclusion, the future of Senate Bill 29 remains uncertain, with contrasting views on its potential impact. The proposed legislation has the potential to shape the way the state of Texas responds to future pandemics and outbreaks.