FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2023
(AUSTIN, TX) — Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) has filed Senate Bills 1024, 1025, and 1026 to end and reform former COVID-19 restrictions. In Governor Greg Abbott’s State of the State Address, the governor declared prohibition of Covid mandates an emergency issue for the Texas Legislature.
These bills build off Kolkhorst’s efforts last session, when she passed legislation addressing the outcomes of COVID-19 mandates, including Senate Bills 25 and 968 and Senate Joint Resolution 19. SB 25 allowed for the right of certain residents to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation, while SJR 19 codified SB 25 as a constitutional amendment establishing this right and passed overwhelmingly by the voters in November, 2021.
SB 968 prohibited government entities from requiring vaccine passports from its employees or consumers.
Senate Bills 1024, 1025, and 1026 seek to codify executive actions and expand on last session’s measures to protect private citizens’ rights.
“This series of bills will put an end, once and for all, to ineffective and crushing restrictions on our personal liberties that we saw during COVID-19,” said Kolkhorst. “One of the most important actions we take is to learn from our lessons and make sure we put safeguards in place for future generations. This legislation is aimed at preventing future repeats of these controversial public health measures, which did little to slow the spread of the virus and did serious damage to the economy and education systems.”
SB 1024 codifies protections established by Governor Abbott through his various executive orders in 2021, prohibiting employer COVID-19 mandates and governmental entities from requiring individuals to wear masks or mandate vaccinations.
SB 1025 freezes in place the current vaccination schedule for schools and puts the legislature in charge of all changes to the future vaccination schedules.
States often predicate their required school immunization schedules on federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. If passed, SB 1025 will ensure the COVID-19 vaccine remains off the Texas Minimum State Vaccine Requirements for Students as a requirement for admission to elementary or secondary public schools, and institutions of higher education may not require students be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of their enrollment or attendance.
Under the Governor’s COVID-19 2021 Executive Order, GA-40, no government entity in Texas can compel proof of vaccination by any individual. However, health care workers, airline employees, and military members were forced to resign or terminated for refusing the vaccine. Senate Bill 1026 permanently bans proof of COVID-19 vaccination by employers, governments, schools and colleges. The bill also prohibits licensed facilities from prioritizing or discriminating against patients for treatment based on their COVID-19 vaccination status.
“No patient should be denied life-saving care or surgery because of their vaccination status, as has been the case in some Texas hospitals,” said Senator Kolkhorst. “Texans should not be losing their jobs, their pensions, or their ability to earn a living because they refused a COVID-19 vaccine. Similarly, flu shots are not mandated but strongly encouraged. That should be the same application to COVID-19 but it has been treated differently. Never again should government be able to abandon our rights and freedoms in the name of public health. These bills see that Texas remains free of lockdowns, masking mandates, and COVID -19 vaccination requirements.”