Texas is one of several U.S. states that has mounted multiple federal lawsuits against the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which requires almost all federal employees, including civilian federal employees and contractors, to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.
Meanwhile, Texas has a no-mandate policy.
In an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Abbott said Texas is “growing and thriving,” while declaring that “there can be no mandates infringing upon individual liberty.”
“That, in part, is why I think there are so many businesses that are moving in the state of Texas,” he said. “Over just the first 11 months of this year, there have been 70 businesses and corporations that have relocated their headquarters to the state of Texas.”
“Texas has been very aggressive about legally challenging all of these mandates that the Biden administration has put in place concerning COVID, and we’ve been winning them all in the courts, and right now in Texas there are no federal mandates that apply. The only mandate that applies is my executive order saying that nobody in the state of Texas can be mandated to take a vaccine shot.”
Abbott’s comments come shortly after Tesla officially moved its headquarters to Austin from Palo Alto, California, with a Dec. 1 regulatory filing making the move official.
“On December 1, 2021, Tesla, Inc. relocated its corporate headquarters to Gigafactory Texas at 13101 Harold Green Road, Austin, Texas 78725,” according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which bears the signature of Tesla Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn.
Abbott took to Twitter to acknowledge the move, saying that Tesla is now “officially” headquartered in the Lone Star State.
Elsewhere, Abbott and Samsung Electronics announced in November that the South Korean multinational would build a new $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility, the largest foreign direct investment in the state on record, in Taylor.
The new manufacturing facility will “produce advanced logic chips that will power next-generation devices for applications such as mobile, 5G, high-performance computing (HPC), and artificial intelligence (AI),” Abbott said, adding that the move would bring the company’s total Texas investment to more than $35 billion since 1996.
D6 Inc., a maker of packaging and container products, also announced in October that it’s moving its headquarters to Sulphur Springs from Portland, Oregon, a move that’s expected to create 231 new jobs and $27 million in capital investment.
Abbott has issued multiple executive orders over Biden’s vaccine requirement. The latest one, issued in October, bans any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring vaccinations for employees or customers.
In November, Abbott filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit challenging the vaccine mandate imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
However, organizations in favor of a vaccine mandate in Texas, including the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Hospital Association, the Texas Association of Manufacturers, the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Texas Trucking Association, have warned lawmakers that attempting to prohibit vaccine mandates by any entity could have dire consequences.
Ted Shaw, president of the Texas Hospital Association, said Abbott’s move was political.
“The time is now to set politics aside and let hospitals do what’s best to protect their patients. Texas hospitals strongly oppose efforts underway to hamstring them from being able to require vaccination of their own staff, many of whom are at the bedside every day with children and adults who are vulnerable to COVID-19,” Shaw said in a statement.
“This political action undercuts the central mission of hospitals, and patients and staff cannot be put at unnecessary risk. Hospitals have soldiered on for months at ground zero of this pandemic. As experts in healing and saving lives, hospitals must have the trust, respect and flexibility to mandate vaccines in their own facilities to protect the people of Texas.”