Mayor George Fuller said he and County Judge Chris Hill will likely remain in talks through the weekend after a lawsuit was filed seeking a temporary restraining order against the city’s shelter-in-place policy. The conversations began Friday and were expected to last through Sunday before the court's ruling, which is likely to come Monday.
“Judge Hill wants every business to be able to be open, and I will not allow every business to be open," Fuller said. "So [we’re] pretty far apart. We’re committed to continue talking.”
Hill confirmed in a text message late Friday that the two planned to work together “to bring the city’s orders into clear harmony with the county’s.” He did not say whether that resolution would allow a shelter-in-place order like McKinney’s to remain intact. Hill did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
The suit was brought by Derek V. Baker, a McKinney real estate agent who unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2017. His suit cites Texas law regarding local disaster declarations, which states: "to the extent of a conflict between decisions of the county judge and the mayor, the decision of the county judge prevails."
Both Baker and Fuller said they expected District Judge Jill Willis to rule Monday against the city’s order, which was intended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Baker’s lawsuit claims the city’s shelter-in-place order violates the county order issued earlier this week. The county ordered residents to stay home “except for travel related to essential activities.” The order then defines all business as essential.
McKinney’s shelter-in-place order went further than the county’s. It defined essential businesses more narrowly to include only healthcare operations, government functions, food service and a few other services. The city ordered businesses that didn’t fall under those essential categories to close.
Although Fuller asserts the city’s order is consistent with the county’s, Baker claimed the language is not. He said the mayor should have checked with Hill up front to make sure the order would be consistent with the county’s before issuing it.
“Did you know the mayor was at [Hill’s] press conference?” Baker said. “If the mayor was at the judge’s press conference, why didn’t the mayor try to contact the judge originally and actually walk through and make sure his order was consistent?”
Baker declined to comment further on the lawsuit, citing advice from his attorney.
Fuller said if the court stops McKinney's shelter-in-place order, he intends to immediately appeal the decision.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the status of the talks.