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Texas Senate approves anti-sick-leave bills

Friday, April 12, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

In February 2018, City Council passed an ordinance requiring businesses to provide sick leave to employees. Almost as soon as it passed, Texas Republican lawmakers went to work overturning the law. Now, after a year and a half of work, SB 2485 and SB 2487 passed in the Texas Senate in a party-line vote for each bill of 18-12. The two bills have drawn the ire of LGBTQ activists in recent months who have cautioned that state lawmakers overriding municipal ordinances could also threaten the city’s other non-discrimination ordinances. According to Sen. Brandon Creighton, who was involved in a heated debate with Sen. Kirk Watson about SB 2485, the bill has “nothing to do with any discrimination ordinance.” Watson tried to amend the bill to contain verbatim language from Creighton’s original bill for local non-discrimination ordinances. The amendment failed but the bill passed. A statement released by Council Member Greg Casar – the author of Austin’s sick leave ordinance – just after the passage of the two bills, acutely expressed the intention of the bills and the ramification they will have on Austinites. “Let there be no question: Senator Creighton’s bills are a disgrace,” Casar said. “His bills clearly nullify our non-discrimination ordinances and strip Texans of their rights to sick days. Creighton has promoted his bills under the false pretense of ‘freedom for business,’ but there is no freedom for the people who will be forced to work sick, forced to work in the sun without water breaks, or denied benefits because of who they love.” The two bills will now move off to the House for another vote.

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