Texas Republicans’ ‘Death Star Bill’ kills local pro-workers laws, rules


Austin, TX (PAI) — On June 16, Felipe Pascual, a 46-year-old construction worker pouring cement in Missouri City, Texas, during the Lone Star State’s current ultra-heat wave, collapsed and died of heat stroke.

Just days afterwards, Eugene Gates, 66, a Letter Carriers Branch 132 member since 1987, collapsed and died — of the same cause — while walking his route in the Lakewood neighborhood outside of Dallas. Efforts to revive him using CPR were unsuccessful.

But now that radical right-wing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the gerrymandered radical right Republican majority in the state legislature and the corporate interests who back them have had their way, more workers may follow Pascual and Gates to their graves, starting Sept. 1.

That’s because lawmakers approved and Abbott, who lobbied hard for it, signed HB2127, nicknamed the “Death Star Bill.” Like death stars in sci-fi films, the new law kills everything in sight.

In this case, it kills Texas local governments’ power to approve ordinances and regulations in a wide range of pro-worker areas — everything from raising the minimum wage to cutting deaths from heat stroke. And the Death Star bill also repeals past local ordinances. It’ll kill people, too, opponents state.

Texas, like much of the country, has been in the grip of a massive and scorching heat wave. It particularly puts outdoor workers — letter carriers, sanitation workers, postal workers, construction workers, farm workers and longshore workers among them — at high risk of heat-caused deaths.

Jordan Barab, editor of the Confined Space blog, and a former Deputy Occupational Safety and Health Administrator, reports there have been 13 heat-related deaths in Texas this year alone. And that was before Pascual and Gates collapsed.

“Texas is already the state with the most work-related heat deaths in the country. But that’s not good enough for Greg Abbott. Sometimes you just have to kill a few workers to make your political point,” Barab wrote.


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