UPDATE 4:45 P.M. FRIDAY, JULY 10, 2020
SCOTT COUNTY, KY. (WTVQ) – State Attorney General Daniel Cameron has asked a Scott County judge (see story below) whether Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order requiring people to where masks in public starting at 5 p.m. today violates the judge’s temporary injunction blocking another Beshear order.
But Beshear said Friday afternoon it amounts to apples and oranges because is mask directive was done by administrative rule, which is stronger than the executive order and not covered by the injunction.
And the governor said when asked during his briefing he hopes to get all the cases to the Court of Appeals “as quickly as possible.”
“It doesn’t apply,” Beshear said simply when asked about the injunction issued earlier this week by Judge Brian Privett.
“It’s time,” he added when talking about getting this order and one by a Boone County judge to the Court of Appeals. “If we are going to get lawsuits, I’d rather go ahead and do them and get them to the state Supreme Court and get it settled. This isn’t me vs. them, D vs. R, it’s the people of Kentucky against the coronavirus,” Beshear said. “These rules are to protect health and safety, to save lives.”
Cameron’s decision is the latest in a series of steps ramping up the legal and political fight over health initiatives in the state and in some cases, who has the authority to declare an emergency and what steps must be taken to respond.
“Had the Governor consulted with our office and the leadership of the General Assembly on his order prior to its issuance, this step would have been unnecessary,” Cameron said in a press release announcing his request. “The Governor has refused input on his executive orders, despite offers of assistance. This pattern has led to numerous challenges in court, all of which he has lost.
“To be clear, the request we are making to the court today is not about whether or not it is appropriate to wear a mask. It is my belief that masks are an important tool in fighting this pandemic. It is, however, about determining if the Governors executive order mandating mask use follows state law. As the chief law officer for the Commonwealth, it is my duty to raise this question before the court and ensure that the law is followed,” Cameron continued.
The judge himself has become controversial as state Democrats question his partisan leanings and whether it makes him disqualified to hear such cases.
ORIGINAL STORY, THURSDAY, JULY 9, 2020
SCOTT COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Scott County circuit court judge signed a temporary injunction today blocking Gov. Andy Beshear or state agencies from enforcing coronavirus-related executive orders against Evans Orchard and Cider Mill in Scott County or any of the other 547 agri-tourism businesses — everything from farm markets to distilleries and agriculture centers — in the state.
And the ruling brought quick rebuke Thursday afternoon from Beshear because of its broad reach and lack of legal foundation. In turn, that brought an angry response from Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles as the exchanges continue to push everyone further away from compromise.
In his order, Judge Brian Privett said before orders can be enforced, the governor must specify the state of emergency that requires the executive order, the location of the emergency, and the name of the local emergency management agency that has determined that the emergency is beyond its capabilities.
The lawsuit, which still must be argued on its merits, was filed by the orchard and Quarles.
They argued the state rules against gatherings of 10 or 50 people were being arbitrarily enforced, since grocery and big box stores could allow more people and Kentucky Kingdom was being allowed to reopen under strict guidelines.
By contrast, the orchard could not open a 96,000-square-foot — 2.25 acres — play area for kids if it had more than 50 kids.
The orchard, which attracts hundreds of visitors a year, said they’d like to be able to have at least 10 kids at a time, and had hired extra staff and taken other precautions to promote safety and follow coronavirus health standards.
While he said he understood the frustrations of business operators, Beshear said last week his office will fight these and other rulings, some of which he characterized as being pushed by outside political interests, including the involvement of state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who praised the judge’s order.
“The governor cannot issue broad, arbitrary executive orders apart from the requirements of state law, and the judge agreed by issuing a statewide temporary restraining order,” Cameron said. “This is a clear win for the rule of law and will help Kentucky families and businesses across the Commonwealth who have suffered and continue to suffer financial losses and economic hardship because of the governor’s executive orders.”
“This absolutely dangerous,” Beshear responded when asked during his daily briefing Thursday.
“It’s absolutely dangerous, it’s wrong,” Beshear added, saying, “I guess the judge is an epidemiologist now.
“We are going to get this to the state Supreme Court as quickly as possible…this shouldn’t be political,” an obviously excited Beshear continued, noting if farm markets decide not to abide by the regulations could continue the spread.
“Fortunately, I have a commitment from distilleries to continue abiding by the rules. But could you imagine if they pack people in the Pike County Arena?” he questioned. “Think what could happen.”
The comments prompted Quarles to lash back.
“Contrary to the Governor’s performance this afternoon, this lawsuit isn’t about him. It isn’t political. It isn’t personal. It’s about people who have been deprived of their rights to participate in the policy-making process. All that I am asking him to do is to issue emergency administrative regulations that take effect immediately – with a public comment period, like the law requires. The Governor’s rhetoric makes it sound like he is unaware of this part of the law,” Quarles said in a statement.
“Public health is paramount in a pandemic, but we don’t need to eliminate due process. I follow CDC guidelines. We all should. But the process in Kentucky has left people out of the conversation. It’s disingenuous to suggest that agriculture doesn’t want to prioritize public health. We do. But the process has not treated everyone the same. Why do well-connected amusement parks with lobbyists get to talk to the government, but mom and pops get ignored?
“The General Assembly has given the Governor the tools he needs to act swiftly and engage the public in a lawful process. He should follow the law, protect public health, and bring everyone into the process,” Quarles concluded.whtherGov.