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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Troxclair testifies against paid sick leave law
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 by Jo Clifton
District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair testified Monday as one of plaintiff’s main witnesses against the Austin ordinance requiring local businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees. Troxclair, along with Council Member Ora Houston, voted against adoption of the ordinance in February. In April, several business organizations, including the Texas Association of Business, the National Federation of Independent Business and the American Staffing Association, filed suit against the city, claiming that the paid sick leave ordinance violates the Texas Constitution. Others who opposed the ordinance when it came up for hearing included the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Independent Business Alliance. Those supporting the ordinance included various labor groups, including the Workers Defense Project. A number of groups are also organizing to get similar ordinances passed in Dallas and San Antonio. Those include Faith in Texas, Move San Antonio, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, Texas Future Project and the Texas Organizing Project. The ordinance goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2018, for larger businesses and Oct. 1, 2020, for smaller businesses. If the city wins the lawsuit, it seems likely that opponents will ask the Texas Legislature to overturn it. Troxclair released the following statement after her testimony: “Anyone who followed the development of this extreme and sweeping paid sick leave mandate knows that it was adopted without regard for the partnerships between workers and employers, and lacked respect for the many valid opposing views. After speaking to several business owners small and large from across the city, I found the majority of them already provided some form of paid sick leave, or even more flexible paid time off. Not only does the mandate come with new financial and administrative burdens for every business no matter their size but it could hinder businesses potential for expansion and growth. The Council did not allow enough time for the community to have input and grasp the impact such an ordinance would have on the local economy.” One of her opponents in the November election, Bobby Levinski, released a statement attacking Troxclair and saying that the plaintiffs were receiving legal assistance from the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. He said, “The Austin City Council passed the paid sick leave ordinance to ensure that, among other concerns, working mothers and fathers would have the ability to take care of their sick children. Her opposition to this basic human necessity was already apathetic at best; working with the TPPF to overturn the ordinance by far crosses the line.” Troxclair is the only Republican in the race. She faces three Democrats in her bid for re-election: Rich DePalma, Paige Ellis and Levinski.
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