Business Effort Begins at the Texas Capitol to Roll Back Paid Sick Leave Ordinances

The Republican-led push to cancel out mandatory paid sick leave rules for private employers in Austin, San Antonio, and any other city that tries something similar began in earnest today as Gov. Greg Abbott told a crowd of small business owners that he supports bills to create what employers would call “consistency in employment regulation.”

Critics of this legislation, though, were quick to say the city regulations protect working families and said it is “appalling” to see lawmakers line up to roll that back.

"We don't want businesses moving out of the state of Texas. We want businesses moving to the state of Texas,” Abbott said in a speech to a luncheon held by the NFIB at the Sheraton in downtown Austin.

Though a slew of similar bills was filed Tuesday, the ones Abbott voiced specific support for are SB15 and HB1654 by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, and Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, respectively.

"Paid sick leave, for a lot of businesses, is a great strategy. It can be a recruiting tool," Abbott said. "But it should be exactly that. It should be an option chosen by the business based on their strategy of what they want to do, as opposed to a government mandate."

Austin City Council passed an ordinance last year to require businesses to give employees one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked up to 64 hours. Employees could use the time on themselves or use that time to care for a family member. Any unused time could be carried over to the next year. Employers found to be in violation could face fines up $500.

Business and conservative groups sued to block the regulations. Those groups include the Texas Association of Business, NFIB, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  

Those are some of the players in a larger group called ASSET - Alliance for Securing and Strengthening the Economy in Texas. Catchy. To be clear, TPPF is not part of ASSET, they just helped with the lawsuit. The alliance also includes AGC-TBB, the Texas Construction Association, the Texas Restaurant Association, the Texas Retailers Association, the Real Estate Councils of Texas, and others.

The full list is at the bottom of this webpage.

“Private employment regulations are a statewide issue and a critical part of what makes Texas economically competitive. It’s the Legislature’s responsibility to make sure Texas’ regulatory and economic policies are consistent and streamlined and help grow jobs, not hamper job growth,” said spokeswoman Annie Spilman, also of NFIB. “Texans from both sides of the aisle support consistent statewide employment policies over an unnecessary patchwork of regulations,” Spilman said.

“These bills are critical to cutting red tape and encouraging job growth and investment in every part of Texas,” she said.

In a message to its members, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Texas, said that although “a recent court decision may pave the way for ruling these to be contrary to statute and the constitution, other initiatives regulating employer/employee relations have been floated.”

“Local governments in Texas have not traditionally regulated labor practices, leaving that up to the federal and state governments so businesses operating in multiple areas do not have to keep multiple sets of books,” ABC said. “Under our constitution, the state may preempt local governments from engaging in regulations that are more appropriate at the state and federal level.” The bills also steer clear of non-discrimination ordinances, by the way.

But Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network, blasted the bills as potentially making life hard for working families.

“In a state where four in ten workers lack paid sick time, it’s appalling to see legislators trying to stop even cities and counties from helping working families,” Miller said.

“Whether it’s a young person working two jobs to make their rent and pay for school, an individual who needs a mammogram or well-woman exam, or a parent with a sick child, no one should have to choose between keeping their job and getting the care they need,” Miller said. “Elected leaders in cities like Austin and San Antonio are trying to help working folks with reasonable, common sense solutions, but these lawmakers just making that harder.”

 Copyright February 12, 2019, Harvey Kronberg,, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission. 


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