Despite a recent spike in Louisiana’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, a group of conservative House Republicans on Thursday restarted a stalled effort to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ disaster orders enacted because of COVID-19.
The Republicans said the Democratic governor’s decision to continue restrictions on businesses and churches for another 28 days sparked renewed interest in an extraordinary legal maneuver that would remove Louisiana’s state of emergency and reopen everything without restrictions.
Rep. Danny McCormick, a Republican from Oil City, urged his colleagues to support the petition circulated by Shreveport GOP Rep. Alan Seabaugh. The measure requires support from a majority of the House or Senate to revoke the state of emergency.
McCormick says Edwards has “shredded” the constitution.
“Somewhere along the line the common sense approach has turned into a complete and utter loss of freedom, freedom to work and freedom to provide for our families,” McCormick said on the House floor. “In the name of health, we’re destroying our state. What we must ask ourselves is when will enough be enough?”
About two dozen lawmakers stood today on the Louisiana Capitol steps to support the petition, about half the 53 signatures needed to revoke the emergency order. Supporters didn’t release a list of those signed so far.
Noticeably absent was Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, who didn’t support a prior petition effort because of concerns it could jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal virus-related aid for Louisiana.
Edwards today reissued his order to keep the limitations on churches, restaurants, bars, retailers and other businesses he enacted June 5. They’ll stay in place until July 24, as Louisiana is seeing a recent surge in the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus.
Edwards’ regulations require churches, restaurants, coffee shops, bars with a food permit, gyms, hair and nail salons and other businesses to stay limited to 50% capacity. Bars that don’t have a food permit remain limited to 25% occupancy, and other types of businesses have additional restrictions. Employees interacting with the public must wear masks.
Seabaugh, who says he has a family member hospitalized with COVID-19, noted Louisiana is nowhere near its height of cases in early April. At that point, public health officials and the governor worried the New Orleans region could run out of hospital beds and ventilators.
House Republican leader Blake Miguez, from the Acadiana region seeing some of the largest rises in COVID-19 infections, said lawmakers have had difficulty getting data from the state health department to understand the governor’s decision-making. Read the full story.