FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky House Republican leaders are backing two recent lawsuits filed against the use of executive orders by Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement issued Wednesday, they said, “We applaud Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and the owners of Evans Orchard and Cider Mill for giving a voice to the men and women who are the backbone of our state’s economy and our local communities.
“As with the lawsuit filed last week by Florence Speedway, a Northern Kentucky restaurant, and a child care center, this lawsuit takes aim at the inconsistent, arbitrary, and unnecessarily cumbersome executive orders put into place by this Governor.
“Many of these orders have been implemented unilaterally, with no input from other elected officials and no regard for a time-tested process that allows public oversight and ensures transparency. As a result, an outdoor agri-tourism venue with hundreds of acres can only host ten people at a time, while an outdoor restaurant with less available space can have 50. A licensed child care center cannot allow children from one family to wait together to be picked up, but a group of friends can gather at a bar after work.
“A federal judge has already ordered that the power granted to the office of the Governor is not absolute, these cases will determine how far he can go in adopting policies that deny Kentuckians the ability to make a living and provide for themselves.”
In response to the legal action, the Beshear administration has stated:
“At a time when states to our south are reporting over 8,000 new COVID-19 cases each day, the parties bringing this lawsuit want to eliminate the public health guidance and requirements that are keeping Kentuckians safe. All businesses have to follow the same rules and guidance for outdoor weddings and other activities. We are confident in the legality of these rules and have identified numerous legal issues with the suit, including that it was filed in the wrong place. If the parties here won and the virus spread because the facility was not following proper guidance, it could threaten the reopening of our economy and public schools.”
The most recent lawsuit was filed Monday, which was the day guidance took effect allowing gatherings of up to 50 people. That same guidance allows bars and restaurants to seat patrons up to 50 percent of pre-pandemic capacity (it had been 33 percent), public swimming and bathing facilities reopened, event spaces and venues could reopen and youth sports were expanded.