Gov. Greg Abbott Backs Bill Taking Aim at San Antonio's Paid Sick Time Ordinance


Gov. Greg Abbott - GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Gage Skidmore
  • Gov. Greg Abbott
In a swipe at the paid sick time ordinance San Antonio passed last year, Gov. Greg Abbott has backed a bill in the Texas Legislature that would bar local governments from stipulating what types of benefits employers must offer.

The bill, introduced this week by Sen. Brandon Creighton of Conroe and Rep. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, both Republicans, would stop municipalities and counties from passing ordinances that relate to businesses' benefits, leave, scheduling and hiring practices.

In a speech Tuesday to an association of small business owners, Abbott — also a Republican — said allowing cities to impose their own rules would create “a patchwork quilt of regulations” that make it too pricy to do business in the state.

The San Antonio City Council adopted the city's paid sick time ordinance after a coalition of community groups and labor organizations including the AFL-CIO conducted a petition drive that could have placed the measure on the November ballot for voter approval.

A large number of Texas workers lose pay whenever they have to call in ill or stay home to care for a sick child, proponents of the policy argue. A study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that 39 percent of workers here don’t receive paid sick time.

Austin was the first Texas city to pass such ordinance, but that was blocked in November, when a Texas appeals court ruled that it violated the Texas Minimum Wage Act.

This week's bill is at least the second filed during the session that would strip cities of their ability to adopt paid sick time ordinances. Republican Rep. Matt Krause filed his before the session was even underway.

“This session will be another where you see the continued push and pull over the limits of local control,” Sherri Greenberg, a professor at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs, told the Current late last year.

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