UPDATE: 5/29/2023 - SB 304 died. If failed to be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee before session ended on 5/29/2023.
UPDATE: 2/15/2023 - SB 304 was referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee on 2/15/2023.
SB 304 was filed on 12/19/2022. This bill is sponsored by Senator Hall.
This bill prohibits discrimination regarding vaccination status and mandates for receiving or participating in the administration of vaccines; authorizing administrative penalties. It is almost identical to SB 1669 from the 2021 legislative session.
To summarize SB 304 would do the following:
ARTICLE 1 DISCRIMINATION BASED ON VACCINATION OR IMMUNITY STATUS PROHIBITED.
Section 1.01 An individual cannot be discriminated against or refused a public accommodation based on vaccination or immunity status. Establishes relief process through state attorney general’s office.
Section 1.02 A health care provider, health care facility, or long-term care facility, is prohibited from denying services based on vaccination or immunity status. Establishes penalties and violations on licenses.
Section 1.03 A group health benefit plan or life insurance company is prohibited from using an individual’s vaccination or immunity status to negatively affect a policy, premiums, coverage, or eligibility. Vaccination or immunity status of individuals covered by these plans may not be used as a factor in rating a plan or discriminating against a health care provider. Remedies provided under existing statutes.
Section 1.04 It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee or prospective employee based on vaccination or immunity status. Labor organizations and employment agencies are prohibited from discriminating against their members based on vaccination or immunity status. Remedies provided under existing statutes.
Section 1.05 Licensing authorities are prohibited from affecting professional licensing based on an individual’s vaccination or immunity status or their willingness to receive or administer a vaccination. Remedies provided under existing statutes.
Section 1.06 A hospital or health care facility is prohibited from requiring employees or applicants to be vaccinated or administer a vaccine and they may not discriminate against employees or applicants based on their vaccination or immunity status or willingness to administer a vaccine. Also, an educational institution many not discriminate against an applicant for admission or employment as a student, intern or resident based on vaccination or immunity status or willingness to administer a vaccine. Establishes legal remedies.
Section 1.07 Vaccination or immunity status is prohibited from being used for issuance of a driver’s license, voter id, or personal id by the state and the transportation department is prohibited from penalizing, discriminating against or denying services or access to anyone for not providing proof of vaccination or immunity status.
ARTICLE 2 VACCINE MANDATES PROHIBITED
Sections 2.01-2.06 School vaccination mandates and exemptions to vaccine mandates are removed and replaced with recommendations for vaccines for public and private schools including higher education. Schools are required to publish on their web sites these recommendations along with clinic locations where vaccines can be obtained.
Sections 2.07 Current law requires parental consent for all vaccinations except tetanus. The existing exception that physicians or health care providers can give a tetanus vaccine without parental consent is removed in this section.
Section 2.08 Current law prohibits an HHS agency from taking punitive action against a person for “failure of the person” to vaccinate the child based on the state schedule. This section removes this derogatory language and replaces it with the word “decline” and makes the parental protection apply to all vaccines.
Section 2.09 Removes the requirement that vaccine exemptions are required to be posted on the HHS website.
Section 2.10 Removes “immunizations” from the list of legally enforceable control measures.
Section 2.11 Existing law during a public health disaster requires individuals to reveal their vaccination status when requested by the department and quarantine when directed by the department if the individual isn’t vaccinated. This stays in effect but this section now prohibits the department from vaccinating someone during a public health disaster without their consent as currently allowed.
Section 2.12 Existing law requires nursing homes to offer vaccination not mandate them. This section changes the title of the section to match the law by inserting the words “offer of” in between the words Required and Immunization.
Section 2.13 This section prohibits government entities, the governor, a state agency, a political subdivision, or a political subdivision official from requiring individuals be vaccinating or forcing individuals to administer vaccines, discriminating or posing a civil or criminal penalty against such individuals. This prohibition applies to all laws, agency rules, executive or emergency orders.
Section 2.14 This section removes including number of vaccine exemptions for children from being included in a health department report to the legislature.
Section 2.15 Existing limitation on liability for health care providers is expanded to also apply to this section.
Section 2.16 Existing law requires health care facilities to develop a policy to mandate vaccines. This section removes the requirement and replaces it with encouragement and recommendation. It removes the limited medical exemption that had to comply with CDC contraindications since mandates are removed. The bill converts the prohibition on discrimination or retaliation against those with medical conditions that contraindicate vaccination to cover any employee who declines vaccination and removes disciplinary action against an employee for declining vaccination. The health care facility is required to maintain a record of employees’ vaccinations but must keep them confidential and not disclose the record unless required by law.
Section 2.17 Existing law requires recipients receiving benefits under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to have their kids vaccinated or file an exemption as outlined in the responsibility agreement. This section removes this vaccination requirement.
Section 2.18 Existing law requires vaccines for day care. This section removes vaccine requirements and exemptions for daycare returning the decision to have a child vaccinated back to the parent.
Section 2.19 Existing law requires day care facilities to mandate vaccines for employees. This section removes the requirement and replaces it with encouragement and recommendation and since mandates are removed, this section also removes the existing exemptions. Also, employees who decline vaccines will be required to take protective measures around the children, but the employee cannot be discriminated against or suffer from retaliatory action for declining vaccination. and disciplinary action against an employee for declining vaccination is removed. The health care facility is required to maintain a record of employees’ vaccinations but must keep them confidential and not disclose the record unless required by law.
Section 2.20 This section repeals various areas of law that implement forced vaccination by law. This includes statewide requirements as well as those for public school, higher education, daycare, and the health department’s ability to mandate by rule.
ARTICLE 3 TRANSITION AND EFFECTIVE DATES
Sections 3.01 - 3.04 Assigns agency implementation deadlines and bill effective dates.
See full text here - https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/88R/billtext/pdf/SB00304I.pdf#navpanes=0
https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=88R&Bill=SB304 - text, status and history for SB 304