As his state faced a dangerous heatwave this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed sweeping new legislation that will remove a host of local regulations starting September 1, including mandatory water breaks for construction workers. according to The Texas Tribune.
The new Republican-backed bill removes the ability of municipalities to make certain regulations in favor of state authority, ostensibly to “ensure statewide consistency.” It covers a wide spectrum, including other employee protection measures, environmental protection measures, home protection measures and more.
Critics dubbed it the “Death Star Law.” NAACP Houston branch president Bishop James Dixon called it “a threat to civil and human rights.” according to local outlet KHOU11.
His supporters included several construction industry associations.
Dallas and Austin currently require workers to be given at least 10 minutes to cool down and drink every four hours.
Abbott signed the law into law on Tuesday. On Thursday and Friday in some areas of the state started setting new heat recordsand others are expected to hit new highs as temperatures climb into the triple digits over the next few days.
Millions of people in the Houston area were on display a warning of excessive heat on Friday, which lasts until Sunday, with “perceived” temperatures of possibly 120 degrees. The National Weather Service also said that south Texas and east Louisiana are at increased risk of fire due to the heat, which will weigh on the state brittle power grid. Average temperatures in Texas have been rising for decades.
According to the Texas Tribune, Texas is already the state with the highest number of heat-related worker deaths.
The Tribune reported That heat-related deaths hit their highest level in two decades just last year, when at least 279 people across Texas died from heat.