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Local workers face the loss of water breaks under HB 2127

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Municipal Law |

Texas heat in the summer is no joke. Many cities and towns throughout the state have regulations enforcing regular water breaks for workers. However, due to the upcoming law that aims to limit the rules created by municipalities, these breaks will no longer exist. Experts say that this could put hundreds of people’s health at risk.

 Why breaks are at stake

Soon, cities will not have the ability to enforce water breaks – or any other local regulation not explicitly provided by the state. Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2127, introduced in spring by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock). Nicknamed the Death Star Bill by those who oppose it, the bill would halt the power of municipalities to pass local ordinances. This includes protections for workers’ rights such as bathroom and water breaks.

Workers fear loss of protections

Employment rights advocates as well as workers from a variety of industries have expressed concern over how HB 2127 will affect their health and safety. The summer months in Texas can easily top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, creating a risk of dehydration and heat stroke. One construction worker interviewed for a recent news piece said he could lose his 10-minute-per-hour water breaks under the new law, even if the heat is higher than 115 F. A spokesman for the Gov. Abbot’s office responded that “the safety of Texans is a top priority” for the governor.

A sign of even more change to come

It’s not just municipal protections for water breaks that are in jeopardy. Far more local rules will soon evaporate when HB 2127 takes effect on Sep. 1. It strips the power of cities to pass ordinances based on:

  • Employment law
  • Business
  • Agriculture
  • Property
  • Insurance

If a town, city or county does try to pass a rule to grant people water breaks, individual workers or companies that do not want to comply will have the right to file a lawsuit against the municipality.



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