EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — Four mayors of the largest cities in Hidalgo County are teaming up for a unified ordinance that would impact their residents.
“We’ve already been working together, we’re 80% there, we just have a little bit of things we need to re-tweak and we’ll be ready to go,” said Mayor Richard Molina of Edinburg.
The four mayors plan to address the same rules, at the same time, on the same day in hopes it’ll alleviate confusion from residents that travel to and from the neighboring cities.
One question posed is if the mayors can legally enforce this unified order.
Right now, as Governor Greg Abbott’s order is in effect, the mayors can sign their own order, but can not fine anyone for not following it.
So, the four mayors decided to write the Governor a letter and sent it out Friday afternoon.
“We’re asking Governor Greg Abbott for more digression, because we have to enforce it, it’s our law enforcement, code enforcement, our police, fire fighters are the ones that have to enforce and when we don’t understand what’s going on in Washington or in Austin and it makes it very difficult,” said Molina.
So what’s in the letter?
With the subject line labeled ‘Local Jurisdiction’, the four mayors want their power back to enforce rules in their respective municipalities.
“We’re asking for two things, specifically face covers, to allow them to let us make them mandatory, because cases have been sky rocketing we’re asking for more action and we’re looking to limit the amount of people you can have in one setting, before we were doing 10 and it worked out,” said Molina.
The mayors say without enforcement, the order doesn’t make sense for anyone, business owners, customers and residents.
“The Governor doesn’t want us to do criminal penalty’s but the only way the business owner can not violate the law is to get that guy kicked out and the only way you can do that with forces is to say that’s a criminal trespassing, a class A misdemeanor, but the governor doesn’t want us to use criminal penalty, so it ties our hands, ties business owners hands, puts the business owner between the customers, it’s not a good idea to do that,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling.
Darling says if the Governor let’s them make masks mandatory, it avoids residents from spending time in jail for not wearing one.
“We don’t feel comfortable doing it that way, we’d rather have our code enforcement go out there and say here’s a fine for violating city ordinance for not wearing a mask, we’re asking you to leave or you get a fine instead of jail. because he’s not violating the law, it’s the business owner violating the law for not getting rid of them, the only way the business owner can do that is to file a criminal trespass against them,” said Darling, “That’s a Class A misdemeanor.”
Even if Governor Abbott does not respond, the mayors can still sign the order, but just not fine anyone for not following it.
CBS 4 and Local 23 News will keep you updated when and if the unified order is signed.