Devil in the Details: Senate Bill 6 Jeopardizes Texans

April 7, 2021
TFR Staff
Greg Abbott, Kelly Hancock

Quickly moving through the Texas Senate is a bill sold as a measure to protect businesses and healthcare providers from liability during the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, but if implemented would likely accomplish the inverse of what is intended.

Authored by State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-N. Richland Hills), Senate Bill 6 has been sold as a necessary response by the Texas Legislature to limit physician, medical facility, and individual business liability due to COVID-19.

However, the specific terms of the bill are far broader, applying for the duration of the disaster called by Gov. Greg Abbott. They’re also extremely onerous (applying to only entities who followed government-approved guidelines during the disaster).

Attorney and TFR board member Matt Rinaldi took note of that point and characterized the legislation as a “blueprint to establish liability for virtually every business in Texas.”

“So a business failing to mask toddlers or requiring double masking would be liable because they didn’t follow CDC ‘guidance’? This bill is terrible,” said Rinaldi. “It reads like a blueprint to establish liability for virtually every business in Texas.”

In effect, SB 6 codifies protections for only entities who followed in lockstep with the executive orders issued by Abbott and other officials, while stripping away existing protections for businesses who decided to manage themselves.

While Texans for Fiscal Responsibility believes that the goal of protecting Texans and their businesses from frivolous lawsuits is a noble one, the text of SB 6 appears to promote the contrary.

TFR recommends lawmakers oppose SB 6 as filed and work to pass legislation that protects Texans’ liberties and property from not only bad-faith actors in the marketplace but also governmental overreach.