A GOP-authored partisan bill that would be referred to as the Texas Pandemic Response Act has been approved by the House.
HB 3, relating to state and local government responses to a pandemic disaster, including the establishment of the Pandemic Disaster Legislative Oversight Committee would also amend certain powers relating to state and local government responses to a pandemic.
One of the most important highlights of the bill is reforming the governor’s emergency powers during a state of emergency.
If approved, the bill would give the governor enough powers to suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing procedures for conducting state business or a state agency order or rule if strict compliance with the statute, order, or rule would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a pandemic disaster.
Besides giving the governor authority to suspend state laws in such cases, and allow overruling local orders issued by county judges or mayors, HB 3 also aims to create its own CDC guidelines for Texas.
As reported by the Texas Tribune, members drastically changed the legislation Monday with several amendments during the floor debate, including one that would create the Texas Epidemic Public Health Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
The committee, which would consist of the lieutenant governor and speaker, could in certain cases terminate pandemic disaster declarations, orders or other rules issued by the governor or local governments.
Additionally, as part of the emergency management system that intends to embody all aspects of pandemic preparedness and response, HB 3 proposes banning confiscation of firearms or ammunition from individuals while also banning restrictions for business operations of firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, supplier, or retailer or a sport shooting range.
House members voted 92-45 for House Bill 3 in a preliminary vote Monday. They gave formal approval Tuesday, sending the bill to the Senate for consideration.