The governor added the issue to the agenda for lawmakers to address during the ongoing special session Abbott called for redrawing voting maps and new restrictions on transgender student athletes. Montana has passed a law preventing employers from mandating workers get vaccines, and a number of states have explicitly said schools cannot require vaccinations.
Abbott previously barred vaccine mandates by state and local government agencies, but until now had let private companies make their own rules for their workers. It was not immediately clear if Abbott's latest executive order would face a quick court challenge.
Abbott's new order also carries political implications. The two-term Republican is facing pressure from two candidates in next year's GOP primary, former state Sen. Don Huffines and former Florida Congressman and Texas state party chairman Allen West, have attacked Abbott’s COVID-19 policies and have strongly opposed vaccine mandates.
“He knows which the way the wind is blowing. He knows conservative Republican voters are tired of the vaccine mandates and tired of him being a failed leader,” Huffines tweeted.
West recently tested positive for COVID-19. He was briefly hospitalized, but also tweeted he remains opposed to vaccine mandates. West announced Monday on his social media accounts that he had returned home.