Judge: Gov. Beshear’s mask mandate still legal, still in effect despite passage of HJR77

Kentucky

(WDKY)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDKY) – Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled Wednesday that Governor Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 orders, including the mask mandate, are still legal and in effect despite lawmakers’ passage of House Joint Resolution 77.

HJR77 ends all executive orders, administrative regulations, or other directives from the governor. The list of orders included in the measure is extensive and can be found here.

The resolution would also “prohibit the Governor from adoption of new measures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis,” the judge wrote.

Judge Shepherd said both parties agree the resolution was passed as a way to implement Senate Bill 1, which limits the governor’s executive orders to 30 days during a state of emergency.

“In short, HJR77 is the General Assembly’s legislative mechanism to implement SB1 and to terminate a broad range of executive actions in the field of public health that constitute the state’s attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Judge Shepherd.

He found the measure to present the same legal issues and public concerns as a trio of bills (SB1, SB2, HB1) already under the temporary injunction Judge Shepherd previously ordered on March 3.

The judge noted the legislation “creates uncertainty and unnecessary obstacles” in the fight against COVID-19.

Lawmakers can ask the court for specific orders they think are now unwarranted or unsupported to be ended.

Judge Shepherd ruled existing executive orders should remain “in full force” until final judgment.

“Until this issues has been resolved, it would create a great public harm and would undermine effective public health requirements to allow the temporary suspension or termination of the Governor’s public health orders,” wrote Judge Shepherd.

The Beshear administration also questioned the validity of part of the 2021-22 budget (House Bill 192) that would prevent the governor from spending money to enforce COVID-19 regulations. Judge Shepherd said that is not ready to be argued at this time because the current budget is in effect through June 30, 2021.

There were also concerns raised about Senate Bill 148 regarding child care, day care, and pre-school facilities, but not through a motion.

The judge has asked both sides to meet to resolve concerns about the implementation of that bill.

You can view the order here.

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