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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said local Stay Home-Work Safe orders include "unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions" and threatened litigation if Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt don't "correct" them in a May 12 letter to the elected officials.


Adler and Eckhardt extended their orders last week, despite being unable to enforce public masking and other safety measures per Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's orders. Both acknowledged that their recommendations are largely unenforceable and instead depend on residents choosing to comply voluntarily.

Paxton identified a number of conflicts between the local orders and state emergency rules, including what he characterized as the city's "Orwellian" recommendation that restaurants and other businesses keep activity logs of customers to aid in contact tracing effects.

The attorney general also wrote in the letter that he is concerned about the local orders' restrictions on businesses deemed essential by the state, including houses of worship and law offices, and the confusion they might cause to residents.

"A recommendation, by definition, is not a requirement," the letter reads. "Yet your orders seem to confuse the two."

Paxton "encouraged" Adler and Eckhardt to clarify that their orders are recommendations, not mandates, and the unenforceable nature of them as such.

His office issued similar letters to Dallas and Bexar counties and the mayor of San Antonio, according to a press release issued earlier today.

This is not the first coronavirus conflict to arise between state and local officials.

While Abbot initially deferred to city and county governments when it came to pandemic response, leaving it up to mayors and county judges to cancel events such as SXSW and the Houston Rodeo, on other issues, such as construction restrictions, he has made it clear that state law supersedes local ordinances.

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On an average summer day, Austinites crowd the waters at Sculpture Falls. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)

The city of Austin is warning residents of toxins that are dangerous to both humans and animals in Barton Creek waters at Sculpture Falls.

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(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 4 oz sparkling water
Directions: Just add Tito's Handmade Vodka and sparkling water to a glass with ice. Top with a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!

(Austin Summer Carnival)

TinyFest Texas 2021
When: 10 a.m. Saturday – 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive
What: Tour tiny houses, van converstions, shipping container homes and more at this year's TinyFest. Grab tickets here for a weekend of speakers, workshops and panel discussions plus live music, food and more!

Fierce Whiskers Grand Opening
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fierce Whiskers, 5333 Fleming Court
What: Fan of whiskey? Come along to the free grand opening of Fierce Whiskers Distillery's new tasting room. Enjoy bites from a food truck, oysters, musical performances and a raffle.

Austin Summer Carnival
When: 6 p.m. Saturday – 2 a.m. Sunday
Where: The Venue ATX, 516 East 6th St.
What: Don your dancing outfit for this carnival that celebrates the African heritage with Brazilian, Latin and Caribbean rhythms in Austin. Snag your tickets here.

Beginner's Succulent Arrangement and Planting
When: 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Succulent Native, 5501 North Lamar Blvd.
What: Calling all first-time planters: Get your hands dirty and learn about succulent and cactus arrangement and care. No tools required! Grab your tickets here.