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IN OUR VIEW/Public Good, Political Gain: Texas governor loses again on mask mandate ban

January 8, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lost another round in court over his ban on mask mandates.

A state appeals court upheld a Dallas court's ruling that neither the governor nor state Attorney General have the power to stop local governments or school districts from requiring face coverings as a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In July, Abbott invoked the Texas Disaster Act which allows him to issue orders to protect public safety. The governor contends this gives him the authority to ban mask mandates statewide. The AG agrees.

But Harris County challenged that interpretation, saying the Texas Disaster Act gives them the same power and that while the governor can give statewide guidance, local governments can tailor requirements to their own needs.

The courts so far have agreed.

The Texas Disaster Act "does not give the governor carte blanche to issue executive orders empowering him to rule the state in any way he wishes during a disaster," the court ruled Thursday.

Some may see a contradiction. After all, the governor had the power to order a statewide mask mandate as well as shut down some businesses such as restaurants and bars as the pandemic was taking hold. Why then doesn't he have the power to ban mask mandates?

There is a good reason. The earlier orders were issued in the interest of public health and safety. The statewide ban on mask mandates was purely political. A way for a governor facing re-election to appeal to anti-mask voters. It had nothing to do with protecting anything but Abbott's job.

The governor should only use extraordinary powers for the public good. Not his own gain.

Print Headline: For Good or Gain?Texas governor loses again on mask mandate ban

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