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Some State Republican Lawmakers Support Bill To Ban Vaccine Mandates In Texas Amid US Supreme Court Review

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - About 30 Texas Republican state lawmakers along with the Texas Republican Party want Governor Greg Abbott to call a fourth special session so lawmakers can pass a bill banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Representative Brian Harrison of Waxahachie is among those pushing for it.

"I just had a constituent lose their job. Texans are losing their jobs, and the legislature could end this tomorrow, if they would pass the Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act, which I introduced," Rep. Harrison said.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Friday, Jan. 7 to determine whether Congress gave OSHA the authority to require workers at large businesses to get the COVID-19 vaccine or tested regularly.

The Justices also considered similar requirements for healthcare workers by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Democratic State Senator Nathan Johnson said the Biden administration's proposed rules aren't as draconian as Harrison and others claim.

"They're not strapping them down to a gurney and jabbing a vaccine there are they're saying, if you want to work here, you got to get a vaccine, or test or wear a mask," said Sen. Johnson.

Governor Abbott has said he could call a special session at any time.

Last fall, he issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates in Texas and asked lawmakers during the third special session to turn his order into a bill.

But legislation did not pass.

Some legal experts say it's up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide this issue because federal law trumps state law.

But Representative Harrison said he believes his bill would still apply regardless of how the Supreme Court rules.

Harrison filed his Texas COVID Vaccine Freedom Act hours after being sworn-into office following a special election.

The bill was referred to a committee but didn't receive a hearing.

He said even if the Supreme Court upholds OSHA's proposed rules, his bill would provide Texans a general right that's not just covering the workplace.

"All it simply does is say nobody in Texas can force somebody else to get a vaccine if it's against their will. And if you're going to get a vaccine, you have to first provide informed consent. Informed consent is a bedrock principle saying hey, if you're a patient, you've got a right to understand a procedure or a treatment before you get it so you can accept it or decline it."

Senator Johnson rejected that.

"I don't know what Representative Harrison's trying to do other than perhaps score points with people that declare your right not to be forced to get a vaccine. No one's forced to get a vaccine. It's just a condition of employment. If he wants to be more specific, and say that no employer can require somebody to get a vaccine. He needs to put it in his bill."

No word yet when the Supreme Court will issue its ruling.

The Supreme Court's consideration of federal vaccine and testing rules comes as candidates running in the Texas primary March 1 are now starting to ramp up their campaigns.

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