Almost one year after being mocked relentlessly for a holding short-lived “thirst strike,” U.S. Congressman Greg Casar is once again promoting the idea that government should mandate water breaks.

On Tuesday, Casar took to X (formerly Twitter) to cheer on “a new federal heat rule to give American workers the right to rest, shade, & water!” While not yet finalized, the proposed rule would see the national government force “employers to develop an injury and illness prevention plan to control heat hazards in workplaces affected by excessive heat. Among other things, the plan would require employers to evaluate heat risks and – when heat increases risks to workers – implement requirements for drinking water, rest breaks and control of indoor heat.” By imposing this sort of one-size-fits-all mandate, progressives argue that construction workers, mail carriers, and others will gain important protections against private sector employers they believe might be trying to “kill” their employees. Sigh.

Along those lines, President Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke favorably of the proposed rule, saying: “Across the country, workers suffer heat stroke or even die just doing their jobs. This new rule will substantially reduce heat injuries, illnesses and deaths for over 36 million workers.

Unfortunately for both Biden and Casar, none of this political rhetoric is supported by any actual evidence to legitimize government action. At least not in Texas.

Just a year ago, in July 2023, the Texas Public Policy Foundation debunked a New York Times hit piece on much the same topic, except it dealt with state-level policy. In that TPPF article, several important observations were put forward, including that “most cities in Texas do not require water breaks,” presumably because no one finds them necessary.

Further, the Foundation also noted that only Austin and Dallas had enacted a mandatory water break ordinance, which probably stemmed more from progressive politics than prudent policy. Of Dallas’ mandate, one homebuilder said:

“I don’t know what kind of home builder would need or use that ordinance. I don’t know any builders who work their guys so much that they say, ‘OK, 10 minutes for water.’ They have access to water all day. It’s not really an issue.”

This statement, while anecdotal, fairly well captures the inanity of the ordinance. But for more concrete evidence, consider Austin’s experience.

Around this time last year, the Foundation’s researchers sent a Public Information Act request to the city of Austin seeking to know 2 things:

  • “How many violations the city of Austin has recorded since passage of the city’s Rest Break Ordinance, Ordinance No. 20100729-047?”; and
  • “How many citations have been issued, how many fines have been levied, and how much were the fines?”

In response, city officials sent back more than 9,000 pages of material (with just a few entries on each page) and none of the material provided recorded any citations having been issued for violating this specific ordinance. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Thus, based on the Foundation’s investigation, we can observe that: 1) Most cities don’t even consider it a real threat; 2) In Dallas, homebuilders scoff at the idea that such a rule is even needed; and 3) In Austin, there’s no data to support it all—probably because employers aren’t trying to harm or kill their employees.

Hopefully, conservatives in Washington D.C. will draw from Texas’ experience with mandatory water breaks and use it to push back against progressives’ obvious nanny state impulses. We, the People aren’t asking for the national government to layer on another government mandate nor is there much evidence to support it anyhow.