Texas AG is suing Austin, Travis County, over mask mandates
The Texas AG office has officially filed a lawsuit in the district court to seek an injunction over the local mask rule pending a hearing.
Austin, Texas – – The battle between the state of Texas and Austin and Travis County for a local face mask mandate continues in court.
The Texas Attorney General’s office officially filed a lawsuit in the district court Thursday to seek an injunction on the local mask rule pending a hearing.
Attorney General Ken Paxton gave Austin Mayor, Travis County Judge and the local health department until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday to revoke the local mask mandate or go to court. The order was not lifted and Paxton followed suit with his threat.
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State, local leaders argue over mask mandate
On Tuesday, city and district leaders agreed to maintain an existing mandate from the health ministry regardless of the governor’s updated ordinances.
Who is responsible for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? That’s the question Paxton hopes the courts will answer thanks to his recent lawsuit against Austin and Travis Counties.
Paxton argues that the Texas Disaster Act places that responsibility on the governor, not the county judges, mayors, or local health officials. Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Andy Brown believe the Texas Health and Safety Code says otherwise.
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“All we’re trying to do is follow the directions from our health department, which frankly the counties across Texas are doing. And when Ken Paxton says the counties are no longer able to obey their health department rules, I think so is. ” something that should give counties across the state a serious break, “Brown said.
FOX 7 Discussion: Poll Shows Texans Split Over Mask Mandate Removal
Travis County’s GOP Chairman Matt Mackowiak and Ed Espinoza of Progress Texas discuss a recent poll that shows Texans are divided over the mask mandate lifting.
The city of Austin and Travis County are currently enacted law requiring companies to mandate face masks. The rule was approved by the local health authority, Dr. Mark Escott, who was granted temporary authority last summer by the city and county under the Texas Health and Safety Code to pass laws to protect the community from COVID-19.
Paxton said the governor’s order to repeal the statewide mask mandate that went into effect on Wednesday supersedes that local order.
RELATED: “See you in Court”: State, City of Austin Mask Mandate Dispute
“The governor issued an order that I cannot take emergency orders, which I have not done. This is Dr. Mark Escott, our health department ordering companies to order their customers to wear masks. And I am not surprised that our attorney general doesn’t know the difference between the two things, but they are completely different pieces of code, “Brown said.
The dispute between the state, city and district over the mask mandate broke out on Twitter. Paxton shot local guides saying they don’t need to be thinking clearly about “oxygen starvation due to five-way masking”. Adler fired back and tweeted: “From the people who didn’t bring you water or electricity: no masks.” His tweet was about the impact of the Texas winter storm on the power grid and local water system.
“See you in court”: State, city of Austin argue over mask mandate
Masks are still required in Austin and Travis Counties. According to County Judge Andy Brown, the fear of a possible increase due to the upcoming spring break is reason enough to take action against the state.
“There is no scientific reason to end the mask mandate at this point. All the data, all the doctors say that we should all continue to wear masks, and we will let it guide us. And that is exactly what we are. We will do it for so long, as we can, “said Adler.
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The case is now making its way through the judicial system, with both sides convinced of their position.
Adler said he knows of no Texas court that has allowed the government to override the health protection rules of a local health agency. Paxton said city and county leaders previously tried to undermine state law and lost and “you will lose again.”
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