(FORT BEND, TX) – Fort Bend County Judge KP George and the Commissioners Court today announced that the County filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Greg Abbott’s authority to suspend state laws that give local officials the authority to respond to an emergency.
The lawsuit was filed in District Court in Fort County and asks for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent enforcement of the Governor’s Executive Order, GA-38. The TRO was granted at 6:06 p.m.
In addition to filing the lawsuit, based on the data provided by medical experts and health authorities, Judge George raised the COVID risk level from Orange (Significant risk) to Red (High risk). With the granting of the TRO, Judge George will immediately issue a County-wide order requiring masks in County facilities and buildings. Based on the local health authority’s guidance, it is necessary for staff, students, and parents to wear face coverings, physically distance, and follow all other CDC recommendations to defeat COVID-19 in public schools.
“As a parent of public school educated children, as the husband of a longtime Fort Bend teacher, and as a former Fort Bend ISD School Board member, it saddens me that today, children in our community’s largest school district returned to the classroom without the ability of their leaders to employ the necessary tools, including requiring face coverings to keep our children and their teachers safe,” said Judge George.
During a special closed session of Commissioner’s Court with County Attorney Bridgette Smith-Lawson, the County authorized the lawsuit against Governor Abbott’s Executive Order prohibiting governmental entities in Texas, including counties, cities, school districts, public health authorities, or government officials from requiring or mandating mask wearing.
“The Governor has decided that he would put a roadblock in place to prevent local leaders, who know the needs of our communities better than anyone, from taking action during an emergency, which prohibits us from using the tools we need to fight COVID-19 and hurts local communities and schools across the state in their decision-making process,” George stated.
In addition to challenging the governor’s authority to stop local emergency orders, Judge George is also reinstating an order that all county employees and visitors to county facilities must wear a face covering. This week health screenings will also resume for all employees and visitors to county facilities.