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The Texas House on Tuesday finally passed the Texas Pandemic Response Act, sending to the Senate a comprehensive plan for the state should a statewide pandemic disaster strike again. House Bill 3 by state Rep. Dustin Burrows addresses many concerns identified by Texans after the state and local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the bill are provisions to:

  • Reign in executive authority in a pandemic disaster

  • Create enhanced legislative oversight of executive orders

  • Ensure churches and other houses of worship cannot be closed

  • Protect 2nd amendment rights by allowing gun stores to stay open

  • Establish protections for businesses that adhere to state guidelines

  • Prevent cities and counties from increasing property taxes during a pandemic

A central focus of the bill is to create guardrails on executive authority by putting a time clock on executive orders related to mask mandates, closing businesses, or prohibitions on certain medical procedures. The bill also limits the ability of local elected officials to circumvent state guidelines and the statewide response to a pandemic.

The bill prohibits any Texan from being jailed for refusing to comply with an order, a key victory for Conservatives. Some provisions of the bill, such as the pieces protecting Religious freedom, 2nd Amendment rights, and property tax rates, passed out of the House earlier this session.

After a lengthy debate -- a swift 4 hours compared to the lengthy discussions on Permitless Carry and the Texas Heartbeat Act -- Texas House Republicans were able to deliver on another major Conservative victory.

HB 3’s passage on 3rd reading Tuesday means it will now head to the Senate for consideration. A video of the debate on House Bill 3 is available on the Texas House archive (please note that during the debate, the video feed was cut as part of an outage that occured with several state websites.)


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