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Tensions in Texas Rise as More Rules Lifted

Some cities are trying to keep restrictions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2020 9:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Few states are rebooting quicker than Texas, where stay-at-home orders expired May 1. With cases still rising, including single-day highs of 1,458 new cases and 58 deaths Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has defended the pace by pointing out that Texas’ 1,200 deaths are still behind similarly big states, including California and Florida. But on the cusp of even more restrictions ending Monday, including clearing gyms to reopen, a political confrontation is growing over attempts by big cities to keep some guardrails. The dispute underscores the gulf between Democrats who run city halls and GOP leaders who call the shots in the capital in Texas, where unlike in other states, the governor's orders supersede all local mandates during the pandemic, the AP reports.

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State Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, this week lashed out at the cities of Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio over what he called "unlawful" local orders that are tougher than restrictions prescribed by Abbott. Some counties and cities have "grossly exceeded state law to impose their own will on private citizens and businesses," Paxton said. City leaders said their local orders, which include more stringent emphasis on face coverings in public and restaurant protocols that aren't strictly enforced, don't conflict. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego says he asked the governor for a few more weeks to assess data before restrictions are lifted. "I’m not fighting his plan, I’m fighting his timing,” Samaniego says. "It looks like it would work for us months from now."

(Read more Texas stories.)

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