Cities and Counties in Texas will still be able to tell private employers that they must provide paid sick leave, something Republicans in the Legislature failed to rein in this year. The Texas House on Sunday effectively killed the legislation to ban such ordinances when the decision was made to not place the issue on the agenda ahead of critical deadlines this week.
The bills pushed by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, had broad support from business groups including construction associations and seemed on track for passage given that backing plus the stamp of approval from Gov. Greg Abbott. Abbott had argued that employers should be able to make the decision for themselves.
But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s reported involvement in removing protections for local nondiscrimination ordinances, which we told you about here, derailed the effort in the Texas House. It gets a little confusing, but the bottom line is that chambers of commerce around the state wanted some assurance that the Legislature was not canceling out nondiscrimination ordinances, which business leaders consider important.
“We applaud the Texas House for making Texas’ municipal nondiscrimination ordinances (NDOs) – the only explicit protections from discrimination for LGBTQ Texans and visitors – a bipartisan priority,” said Jessica Shortall, Managing Director of Texas Competes Action.
“By re-inserting into these bills the original language to protect municipal nondiscrimination ordinances from preemption, House lawmakers, along with the business leaders that have been unwavering on this issue, affirmed that fairness and equal treatment of LGBTQ people is a mainstream, pro-business Texas value,” Shortall said. “We are gratified that Texas’ major cities and employers will continue to have this competitive and forward-looking tool to attract talent, tourism, and investment."
Throughout the debate, Sen. Creighton had insisted that the language protecting nondiscrimination ordinances would have been unnecessary. And he had argued it was not his intent to cancel those ordinances. Creighton said he was simply trying to create a predictable regulatory environment and consistent rules for businesses across the state.
Members of a business coalition called ASSET had argued that the Dallas and Austin ordinances on employment rules were a hindrance to the economy.
“Local employment ordinances are the biggest threat to Texas jobs and future prosperity for our state,” said ASSET Spokeswoman Annie Spilman. “Local bureaucrats are launching a power grab to force burdensome regulations on the job creators that fuel their communities.”