AUSTIN – Texans are free from local government mandates requiring face coverings and any official denying that immunity may be in violation of the Penal Code, Attorney General Ken Paxton recently opined.
Earlier this month, the Williamson County Attorney’s Office requested an expedited AG opinion on whether Gov. Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38 creates a right, power, privilege, or immunity for individuals to be free from a requirement or mandate to wear a face covering?
Enclosed in the request were two exhibits, one of which was a document showing a school district mandating a mask requirement as the school year kicked off.
“Community complaints and reports received by the Williamson County Attorney’s Office demonstrate that individuals in Williamson County value the requirement that no person will be mandated or required to wear a face covering and that prohibition against governmental face covering mandates,” wrote County Attorney Dee Hobbs in the request.
“As time is of the essence in determining the enforcement of Executive Order No. GA-38, I ask that your office expedite our request.”
Paxton did in fact expedite the request, issuing his opinion on Sept. 17 and finding that GA-38 generally prohibits a governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, or public health authority, from requiring any person to wear a face covering or to mandate that another person wear a face covering.
“Executive Order GA-38 creates immunity for Texans to be free from enforcement of most local governmental mandates that require face coverings,” the opinion states. “A court could find under certain facts that a governmental official intentionally denying that immunity to an individual by enforcing an unlawful face covering mandate is in violation of section 39.03 of the Penal Code.”
Opinion No. KP-0386
Written by Staff reports