Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and a central Kentucky agri-tourism business are going to court over Governor Andy Beshear's executive action related to COVID-19.
A lawsuit filed in Scott Circuit Court seeks to declare some of Beshear’s executive orders in violation of Kentucky’s Administrative Practices Act that allows input from citizens and the General Assembly when forming public policy.
“With more than 100 days in this pandemic, over 100 days of executive orders with no end in sight, Kentuckians deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard with the rule-making process," Quarles stated in a Monday news conference. "With businesses like Evans Orchard, they want to comply, but they want to do it safely.”
state and local public health officials have been slow to provide reopening guidance to the agri-tourism industry.
Evans Orchard and Cider Mill in Georgetown is claims state and local public health officials have been slow to provide reopening guidance to the agri-tourism industry. The lawsuit alleges that Beshear’s executive orders have adversely affected small businesses and farm families through “haphazard and selective enforcement.”
Evans Orchard and Cider Mill has a 96,000-square-foot play area outdoors, larger than two football fields, yet the attraction says it has been limited to only ten guests at a time. The destination also includes a wedding venue that’s been closed due to the coronavirus. The fifth-generation family farm claims it has lost about 80 percent of revenue since the restrictions went into place.
“It’s our family business," said Jenny Evans. "We didn’t want it to come off political. It’s not. It’s just what we have to do to save our farm.”
Governor Beshear's office released the following statement in response to the legal action:
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.