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Despite Greg Abbott's Backing, A Bill To Quash Local Sick Leave Ordinances Won't Become Law

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
Former candidate for governor of Texas, Wendy Davis, speaks at a rally in support of mandating paid sick leave at Austin City Hall in February.

From Texas Standard:

Momentum for one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority issues this legislative session appears to have dwindled. Ordinances passed in Dallas, Austin and other Texas cities, which require private employers to offer paid sick leave to employees, will remain on the books now that an attempt to prohibit them failed to pass in the legislature.

Allie Morris is covering the story for the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle, and says the Texas House never scheduled a vote on the measure before the deadline, which would have prohibited cities from passing sick leave requirements. The Senate, however, had passed the bill.

Morris says the bill became controversial when lawmakers removed language that would have protected city nondiscrimination ordinances  from the bill. That drew criticism from large employers who typically oppose laws they believe are harmful to LGBTQ people.

"A lot of advocates became pretty concerned [and] said that this could unravel some of these nondiscrimination ordinances, even though the bill's author said that wasn't true," Morris says.

Small businesses, which are significantly affected by local sick leave requirements, supported the bill. That's because they said that complying with local ordinances would have forced them to cut other benefits or reduce employment. Morris says 4.3 million Texans don't have paid sick leave.

But labor advocates said the sick leave ordinances protect workers who can't afford to miss work if they are ill, or need to be absent to care for a sick child.

"What we didn't see this session is any statewide policy, other than this bill, that would simply strike down paid sick leave policies in cities," Morris says.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Kristen Cabrera is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, where she saw snow for the first time and walked a mile through a blizzard. A native of the Rio Grande Valley, she graduated from the University of Texas-Pan American (now UTRGV) and is a former KUT News intern. She has been working as a freelance audio producer, writer and podcaster. Email her:
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