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Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against COVID Rules
Kentucky Ag Connection - 07/10/2020

Attorney General Daniel Cameron Thursday announced that a Scott Circuit Judge ordered the Governor to cease issuing or enforcing executive orders related to COVID-19 unless the orders meet specific criteria for an emergency as outlined by state law. The Judge stated that, in order to issue and enforce executive orders related to COVID-19, 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 Governor cannot issue broad, arbitrary executive orders apart from the requirements of state law, and the Judge agreed by today issuing a statewide temporary restraining order," said Attorney General Cameron. "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."

Attorney General Cameron joined the lawsuit last week, which challenges Governor Beshear's use of executive power during the COVID-19 pandemic and was filed by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Evans Orchard and Cider Mill, LLC, an agritourism business in Georgetown. Evans Orchard instituted new public health guidelines and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Governor Beshear's executive orders, including requiring employees to wear masks, sanitation protocols for the facility, and reduced capacity to comply with social distancing. In one instance, Evans Orchard was told by the local health department that they could not allow more than 10 individuals at a time into the business's 96,000 square foot attraction.

The temporary restraining order issued by the Judge today also stops the enforcement of the Governor's executive orders as they apply to Kentucky's 548 agritourism businesses.

Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan said, "This ruling is a victory for the rule of law, public health, individual liberty, and small business owners across the Commonwealth," said Commissioner Quarles. "The decision provides much needed certainty for businesses across the state as peak agritourism season approaches. I am hopeful this court order will encourage the Beshear Administration to follow Kentucky's administrative laws and seek cooperation from the public and the General Assembly in putting public health first."

In addition, Quarles issued the following statement in response to Governor Beshear's comments made at a media conference Thursday.

"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.

"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."

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