Now, advocacy groups and labor unions are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could put outdoor workers’ lives at risk.
House Bill 2127 by state Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican, forbids local authorities from passing and enforcing ordinances stricter than state law in a wide swath of areas, including labor, finance and agriculture. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill days before Gates’ death.
While proponents argue the measure will smooth out inconsistencies in Texas’ patchwork of business-related regulations, critics fear it could endanger the health and safety of the state’s outdoor workers, among other concerns.
HB 2127, which takes effect on Sept. 1, will nullify mandated 10-minute water breaks every four hours for construction workers in Dallas and Austin.
Adrian Shelley, the Texas director of the advocacy organization Public Citizen, told the Observer via email that 279 workers died last year in the Texas heat.