AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said he backs Governor Greg Abbott's decision to end the statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at 100% again effective next Wednesday, March 10.
In an interview with CBS11 Wednesday, March 3, Mr. Patrick said, "We're leaving it up to people. I'm not a mandate guy. I've never been in favor of mandates."
He disagreed with the comments by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Wednesday morning that it's too soon for states to lift all COVID-19 restrictions.
"Now I think it's time to move forward with the hospitalizations down and vaccinations going up. You know, the President said that he hopes by the end of May or June, everyone in the country who wants a vaccination of any age will happen. So it's time to start moving in that direction even more."
Regarding public schools, he said he spoke with Governor Abbott Wednesday and they agreed the state's 1200 school districts should decide themselves what to do about mask requirements. "I think most of the schools are going to say whatever our policies have been, we're almost through the school year, another three months, we're just going to stay on that path. But that's up to the school board and the school district to make that decision."
During the 15 minute interview, the Lt. Governor also discussed the continuing fallout from last month's deadly power outages.
On Monday, the Lt. Governor called on Public Utility Commission Chair DeAnn Walker and ERCOT'S CEO Bill Magness to resign.
While Walker did step down, Magness has not.
The Lt. Governor said he is looking into that.
"ERCOT is a private entity. It's not a state agency. And there may be a contractual buyout of his contract, we're trying to look at that. And that's why he's not quitting because he wants to get paid. But we need new leadership in ERCOT, and we're going to get new leadership at ERCOT."
Some energy industry CEO's testified last week winter outages will happen again if the state doesn't put in place an integrated gas and electric grid, governed by a single regulator.
Patrick said, "I'm starting with a clean slate, a clean piece of paper. We're starting from the beginning, with ERCOT, with the PUC, with the Railroad Commission, how everyone works together. I'm not going to let legislation come to the floor until we address all of those issues. I'm taking responsibility to get this fixed."
Given this and other issues, he said the legislature may need a special session. "Yeah, I think it's a real possibility. We have a lot on our plate right now. And if we don't get it finished by May 31, or 30th, whatever the last official day is, then we'll come back and continue. We have to get the ERCOT and the PUC, we have to get that addressed, and that may take a little bit more time than we have."
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW HERE
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