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Texas Republican’s Backwards Priorities Prevented Progress in Fight for Fair Wages

Despite a valiant effort by progressive Democrats, the Republican controlled Texas Legislature stifled any progress on raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay, and investing in paid leave.

Instead of focusing on policies that would improve the lives of working Texans, Texas Republicans prioritized passing bills aimed at restricting Texans’ rights and attacking their humanity, with discriminatory anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-voting rights, and anti-abortion policies. 

A short 5 months ago, at the start of our 140-day legislative session, progressive Democrats lead with the fight for fair and equal wages, including long overdue improvements like a raise in the state’s shamefully low minimum wage, equal pay protections, and paid leave investments. But, with two exceptions, Republicans blocked these fair wage bills from seeing the light of day.

Check our blogs on all the minimum wage, equal pay, and paid leave bills filed this session, and then see below for a breakdown of how these bills fared. Hot take: only one passed.

Raise the Wage

$15 minimum wage bills (HB 285, HB 475, HB 992, HJR 57)- bills that would have allowed full-time minimum wage workers to meet basic living expenses in Texas’ biggest cities were received a public hearing but weren’t voted out of committee.

$10 minimum wage bills (SB 229, SJR 22, HB 924, HJR 56, HB 937)- bills proposing even a $10.10 minimum wage met the same anti-climactic fate.

Local control minimum wage bills (HB 840, SB 427, HB 954, HB 2078, HB 2033, SB 1586)-  these didn’t go anywhere either. 

Equal Pay

Equal pay for equal work seemed like a no-brainer considering it is 2017, but these progressive-filed bills met disappointing ends as well. 

All of the equal pay bills — HB 228,  SB 223, HB 290, SB 1160 —  filed this session fell short of reaching a vote on the floor of either chamber. We testified in a House committee public hearing on Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s HB 228,  but the same bill that passed both chambers with bipartisan support in 2013, didn’t get voted out of committee this session.
HB 290 by Rep. Eric Johnson — a pay transparency bill aimed at leveling the playing field —  passed out of committee, but never reach a vote by the full House. 

Paid Leave

It’s getting redundant...but, paid leave bills did not make it to the floor for a vote either, with the exception of HB 88 by Rep. Mando Martinez, which extends existing paid leave policies to parents with foster children. This common sense measure made it through both chambers and awaits Gov. Abbott’s signature.

If Republicans gave wage bills a fraction of the effort they gave baseless discrimination bills, the lives of millions of hardworking Texans would be deservingly improved.