The following news announcements are mainly from the Office of Gov. Greg Abbott (gov.texas.gov) or AG Ken Paxton (texasattorneygeneral. gov). They have been summarized for space considerations, but the full press releases are available in full at their respective websites.
Gov. Abbott extends statewide Disaster Declaration for COVID-19
AUSTIN (Sept. 7) - Gov. Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation extending his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 13, the Disaster Declaration provides the state a variety of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“Renewing this Disaster Declaration helps ensure that we have the resources and strategies in place to help communities across Texas respond to COVID-19,” said Gov. Abbott. “I urge Texans to take precautionary steps to protect their health by wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitizing their hands. Working together, we will slow the spread and keep our communities safe.”
AG Paxton warns Cameron County it must allow religious private schools to open
AUSTIN (Sept. 4) – Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued a letter to Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, warning against a control order issued jointly by Judge Treviño and the county’s health authority that specifically dictates how religious private schools may operate. The order, which attempts to prohibit inperson instruction at religious private schools until September 28, 2020, violates the United States and Texas Constitutions and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“The order prohibiting inperson instruction blatantly disregards the religious freedoms guaranteed by federal and state law, rendering it invalid,” said Attorney General Paxton. “There are robust constitutional and statutory protections unique to religious individuals and communities, specifically including religious private schools. Religious private schools may determine for themselves when to reopen free from any government mandate or interference.”
If Cameron County proceeds with enforcing the unlawful order against religious private schools, it may expose the county to liability in litigation. Attorney General Paxton previously issued guidance to religious private schools that want to open safely for inperson instruction and guidance to local governments on the limits of their authority over public and private schools.