Two days after Governor Greg Abbott asserted his executive order does not preclude local mask orders so long as it is a requirement placed on businesses and not the general public, four Republican state representatives issued a joint statement condemning it.
Those state representatives are Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington), Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg), Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), and Mike Lang (R-Granbury). All four are current or former members of the Texas House Freedom Caucus, as Stickland left the caucus during the 86th Legislative Session.
The statement reads, “Governor Abbott revealed he is working hand in hand with Democrat county judges to impose $1,000 fines on businesses that allow Texans to enter their establishment without a mask. It is tyranny, plain and simple, and our Governor is enabling it.”
The seeming about-face from the governor on mask orders comes after a number of local officials appealed to Abbott to permit the reissuance of facial covering mandates.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff sparked this round of debate over facial coverings by asking Abbott to allow localities to make their own decision.
Nine Texas mayors followed suit, insisting a “one-size-fits-all” approach at the state level was inappropriate. However, they then suggest they’d be in favor of a statewide policy so long as it was a facial covering mandate as opposed to a lack thereof.
Wolff issued the first facial covering mandate on businesses on Wednesday, and other localities followed suit.
The enforcement mechanism of these orders consists of fines up to $1,000.
Since the pandemic-driven closure orders began, Texas’s unemployment rate has spiked into double digits, and businesses across the state have struggled to stay afloat. The public sector is hurting as well with state consumption tax revenues down 17 percent from projected levels.
Remarking on that economic decline and pointing to it as a Republican-caused problem, today’s letter continued, “Having economically crippled what used to be deemed ‘The Texas Miracle’ through government mandates, we have allowed a virus that largely affects a certain subset of our state to cripple every community.”
“It was disheartening to hear the Governor say he wanted to make sure “individual liberties” were protected, but at the same time say businesses could be tyrannized. It is inconsistent to say you believe Texans should be free to make their own decision on whether to wear a mask or not but use the heavy hand of the government to punish businesses and make them enforcers of tyranny on freedom loving Texans,” it continued.
Led by Abbott, the state has started methodically reopening its economy since May.
The letter further added, “It is inconsistent to say you believe Texans should be free to make their own decision on whether to wear a mask or not but use the heavy hand of the government to punish businesses and make them enforcers of tyranny on freedom loving Texans.”
The group of legislators emphasized that the governor should call a special session if he wants “to continue to have the government micromanage the lives of Texans.”
Texas is currently in Phase III of reopening with most businesses able to open at 50 percent capacity.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.