Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is facing a growing mutiny from local sheriffs unwilling to enforce his statewide mandatory mask requirement for citizens. At least nine Texas counties have gone on record saying they will not be willing to issue citations for those who violate the order, questioning whether the governor even has the constitutional authority to enact it.
The mask requirement, which applies to any Texas county with more than 20 positive cases, was issued after coronavirus cases spiked across the state. The surge in positive cases also provoked the governor to scale back the state's reopening plans, including the re-shuttering of bars.
As bar owners across the state have filed lawsuits against the governor's actions, sheriffs like Tracy Murphree in Denton County are growing impatient with the ambiguous wording of the order.
"His order does not direct me but gives me permission. I'm complying by not enforcing it. If I can't detain anyone for this, I can't write them a ticket. I can't even stop and talk to them," Murphree told the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Murphree said that he does not have the "time or manpower" to worry about mask-wearing.
"I believe the Constitution trumps everything, and I believe in personal responsibility," Murphree said.
The governor's decree allows repeat offenders of the order to be fined up to $250.