Governor Abbott Prohibits Local Governments and Schools from Mandating Masks

AUSTIN (WBAP/KLIF) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an Executive Order on Tuesday that prohibits local governments, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials from mandating mask wearing.

Additionally, the Governor ordered that public schools may continue to follow current mask-wearing guidelines through June 4. After June 4, no student, teacher, parent, or other staff member or visitor can be required to wear a mask while on campus.

Constitutional attorney, David Coale, said Tuesday that the specifics of Governor Abbott’s order appear to be legal, but he anticipates potential push back from school districts.

“The Governor clearly has power to regulate administrative things like mask wearing, and things that are organs of state government,” said Coale. “But school districts  are a little different. The education agency is an independent administrative agency of our state government. The Governor doesn’t usually tell them what to do.”

According to the Governor’s order, beginning May 21, local governments or officials that attempt to impose a mask mandate or impose a limitation inconsistent or conflicting with the Executive Order can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley acknowledged that the Governor has the ability to issue fines, but took issue with the circumstances.

“I just think it’s funny that he didn’t want to do it when local governments were saying that there might be a fine for citizens not complying, but he doesn’t have any problem applying the fines to local elected officials,” Whitley said.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the Governor’s order deviates from CDC guidance.

Governor Abbott contends that Texans, not government, should decide their best health practices.

“We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending Texans’ liberty to choose whether or not they mask up,” Governor Abbott insisted.

Exempt from the Executive Order are state-supported living centers, government-owned or operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails.

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