Senate Committee Votes to Overturn S.A. Mandatory Sick Pay Law

It looks like the San Antonio City Ordinance that was approved last fall to require private employers to provide paid sick leave to their full time employees will be killed by the Texas Legislature, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted 5-1 to overturn any city initiatives to set wages or benefits for private employers, saying the laws that are being passed are 'costly, intrusive, and at odds with the Texas Constitution.'

San Antonio, Austin, and other Texas cities last year were petitioned by labor organizations to pass ordinances which would require that private companies provide sick leave to their workers. Several City Council members, including Manny Pelaez, who is a labor lawyer, predicted at the time that the ordinance would be declared unconstitutionals.

The Senate vote came after the passionate objections of labor leaders like Jeremy Hendricks, who represents construction workers.

He says the state shouldn't stop local governments from 'innovating.'

"Whether intentional or not, Senate Bill 15 is a blanket of pre-emption, which stretches far beyond the issue of paid sick leave," Hendrinks said. "This smothers the flames of creativity coming from our local governments."

Several low wage earners tearfully urged the Committee not to overturn city ordinances which give them the freedom to get treatment when they are sick, and allow them to stay home with a sick child.

Claudia Yolie, who came to Texas as an illegal immigrant from Venezuela as a small child, recalled the struggles of her mother as she tried to make a living.

"I remember how many times my mother had to show up to work sick, and I remember how many tiems I had to stay in school sick, because my mother didn't want to miss work, because missing work meant we would miss out on a paycheck."

Several speakers said laws mandating paid sick leave help create and nurture the middle class, which is a goal of all Texas officials.

But supporters of the bill said it runs afoul of the Texas Constitution, which reserves decisions on wages to the state. A state appeals court has also issued a ruling throwing out the Austin paid sick leave bill.

The measure to declare the San Antonio law invalid now goes to the full Texas Senate, where Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has declared it a priority, and it is expected to pass.

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