8.13.21 – Tyler Paper – The Center Square)
Some Texas businesses are defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s order prohibiting vaccine passports or proof of vaccination as a condition to receive services.
Austin restaurants Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon and Launderette announced this week they were “requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination (at least one shot) for anyone wanting to dine indoors,” Fox News 7 Austin reported.
Billy Bob’s Texas of Fort Worth also required that attendees disclose their vaccination status prior to attending a Jason Isbell performance.
Texans for Vaccine Choice continues to receive reports of businesses implementing mask and vaccine mandates. The group states on its website that “many in the government and certain employers want to force Texans to take a COVID vaccine before returning to work.”
The Texas Legislature passed SB 968, filed by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, which states that businesses will be denied state taxpayer funds if they require customers to show proof of vaccination. Abbott signed the bill into law on June 16 and issued an executive order July 29, which stipulates similar conditions. The bill also requires that state agencies ensure that businesses follow the law as a condition for approving and keeping their license or permit.
“No business or government entity can require a person to provide a vaccine passport or any other vaccine information as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place,” the order states.
The law requiring compliance is in the state’s health and safety code. Formal complaints against businesses can be filed with the state agency that licenses them. But the problem with the law, critics note, is that it only pertains to businesses that have received state funding. If they don’t receive state funding they will continue to issue vaccine mandates.
Sen. Kolkhorst’s office says her staff has received several complaints from constituents about businesses that aren’t complying with the law and order. Her office has notified Gov. Abbott’s office and has also contacted state agencies about the businesses in question to determine whether or not they are in compliance.
The bill also doesn’t protect employees who are being required to get the COVID-19 shots or lose their jobs, like the more than 117 employees of Houston Methodist Hospital who sued over its vaccine ultimatum.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes denied the plaintiffs’ request, saying that the hospital firing the employees for refusing to get the shots did not amount to wrongful termination.
The plaintiffs’ Houston-based attorney, Jared Woodfill, appealed, saying, “We’re taking it all the way Supreme Court.”