Politics

Harris County Leaders OK Legal Action Against Gov. Greg Abbott Over Mask Mandate Ban

The vote gives County Attorney Christian Menefee the authority to challenge Abbott’s executive order either in a standalone lawsuit or in a friend of the court brief to a lawsuit filed by another jurisdiction.

Lina Hidalgo at a vaccination site in Spring Branch, on April 1, 2021.

Harris County leaders on Tuesday approved the county attorney’s request to take legal action against the state of Texas over Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders banning mask and vaccine mandates.

The measure passed at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting on a 3-2 party line vote, with both Republican commissioners voting no. The decision came after an hour-long executive session, closed to the public.

MORE | COVID Surge Has Local Leaders In Texas Looking For Ways Around Gov. Greg Abbott's Mask Mandate Ban

The vote gives County Attorney Christian Menefee the authority to challenge Abbott's executive order either in a standalone lawsuit or in a friend of the court brief to a lawsuit filed by another jurisdiction. On Tuesday, judges in San Antonio and Dallas granted temporary restraining orders on Abbott’s mandate bans, allowing local officials to move forward with their own mask mandates.

It was unclear whether or how the county attorney would take action. Menefee told Houston Public Media on Monday that options included suing the state directly or joining a lawsuit filed by another city or county.

“Our number one goal is not to start a dispute with the state, but instead to be able to keep people safe and not be prohibited from doing so by executive orders,” Menefee said.

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Paul DeBenedetto

Paul DeBenedetto

Senior Producer

Paul DeBenedetto is Houston Public Media's senior web producer, writing and editing stories for HoustonPublicMedia.org. Before joining the station, Paul worked as a web producer for the Houston Chronicle, and his work has appeared online and in print for the Chronicle, the New York Times, DNAinfo New York, and other...

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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