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.
- Compliance, not arrests, planned in enforcing orders, police say ... ›
- Salons, gyms on track to reopen; Abbott encourages masks, social ... ›
- Risk of dine-in too high for some: 'Who the hell wants to close their ... ›
- Austin Public Health issues color-coded 5-stage risk chart as number of new cases remains stable - austonia ›
- Travis County aims to expand mail-in voting over COVID fears; state pushes back - austonia ›
- Austin mayor issues new orders amid COVID-19 surge - austonia ›
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton being investigated for crimes - austonia ›
- Who is Nate Paul, the real estate investor linked to abuse-of-office allegations against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton? - 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.
Concerning levels of cylindrospermopsin were discovered on Sept. 22 after a person got sick and samples were sent to get tested on Sept. 9. Signs will be posted at access points to Sculpture Falls that people and their pets should not injest or swim in the water.
Unlike the harmful algae making dogs sick in parts of Lake Travis and Lady Bird Lake in past summers, these toxins are found in the water, the city says. Barton Creek visitors are asked to avoid stagnant water especially.
The toxins also result in different health effects than the harmful algae in Lady Bird Lake, including liver and kidney damage. If exposed, people can feel:
- Bloody diarrhea
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.