LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's agricultural commissioner filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Gov. Andy Beshear's executive orders restricting businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release, the lawsuit calls the restrictions "selective," "haphazard" and a violation of both Kentucky's Administrative Practices Act and the state constitution.
Evans Orchard and Cider Mill LLC, a 175-acre farm in Georgetown that frequently serves as a marriage venue, joined Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles as a co-plaintiff in the case.
"The Evans Family has put public health first every step of the way during the coronavirus pandemic," Quarles said in a statement. "But they have also suffered immense financial losses due to restrictions issued by the Governor during the State of Emergency. While the orders may be well intentioned, they violate the Administrative Practices Act, which contains significant protections for input from the public and the General Assembly during the rulemaking process."
According to the release, the Beshear administration failed to follow the procedures required by the Administrative Practices Act when implementing the restrictions. In one incident, a public health official told representatives of the farm they could not allow more than 10 individuals in their 96,000 square foot playground at one time, according to the news release. In another, a public official waited five days before responding to an inquiry about reopening to the public.
"As a result of these burdens, Evans Orchard has experienced major financial loses," the news release states. "As a result of these burdens, Evans Orchard has experienced major financial losses. So long as certain executive orders remain in place, Evans Orchard will be unable to operate the playground and event venue profitably for the remainder of the calendar year."
The lawsuit also alleges that Gov. Beshear's restrictions violate the Kentucky Constitution, sidelining members of the public and the General Assembly who have the right to participate in the process of creating those policies.
"In times of crisis, power is stretched in ways that establishes precedents that we may come to regret," Commissioner Quarles said, in a statement. "It's important to be vigilant in guarding our principles -- even during a pandemic. Given the continued spread of the virus, should Kentucky's reopening be halted or rolled back it is incredibly important the Administrative Practices Act be followed. Our aim is to ensure public health is protected, the American dream is preserved and that our laws and institutions mean something."
Lawsuits represent only one side of a story. WDRB reached out to Gov. Beshear's office for comments Monday morning. At the time of this writing, no response has been provided.
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