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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Austin FC is one seat closer to opening the doors to its new stadium for the 2021 Major League Soccer season.
I'm very proud and pleased to tell you that the Austonia team has been selected as a finalist for a nationwide award—Best Emerging (New) Publisher, from the Local Independent Online News Publishers association, the industry group for local digital news sites like ours.
View the 2020 LION awards finalists here.
Recognition like this from our peer group motivates us to work even harder on our mission of connecting you to our ever-changing city.
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By Stacy Fernandez
Texas joined the Trump administration's lawsuit against Google, accusing the tech giant of monopolizing the search engine market and controlling how online ads are bought and sold, according to the suit filed Tuesday morning.
Researchers at the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin predict there is a 96% chance the COVID-19 pandemic is growing in Austin.
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Popular podcaster—and new Austin resident—Joe Rogan canceled all podcast episodes for this week just days after the controversial music artist Kanye West teased that he would be on the show.
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The parent company of the Austin American-Statesman is reportedly asking some employees to accept voluntary buyouts.
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About 50,000 Austin-area users have already downloaded Citizen, a smartphone app that reports real-time police and emergency medical threats. Austin is already one of Citizen's most popular cities since the company soft-launched here late last year.
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