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Gov. Edwards files lawsuit against petition ending COVID order

The governor says the petition that would terminate his public health emergency is unconstitutional.
gov edwards_AP.jpeg
Posted at 1:48 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 13:39:34-04

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards held a press conference on Monday to discuss Hurricane Zeta where he announced his response to a petition filed Friday seeking to revoke his public health emergency.

Edwards said that he has filed a lawsuit against the petition filed Friday by the Louisiana House of Representatives that would terminate his public health emergency proclamation and end his COVID-19 restrictions in the state, which include limits on occupancy for businesses and a statewide mask mandate.

He called the petition "reckless, dangerous, irresponsible and unconstitutional."

Edwards again stated that his Phase 3 Order and its restrictions remain in place and called the petition unconstitutional. He claimed that legislators did not consult with public health experts such as the Louisiana Department of Health before filing the petition, which he said is required in the state statute that the legislators have relied upon.

According to state law §768 - Termination of declaration of public health emergency:

A. The state of public health emergency shall continue until the governor finds that the threat of danger has passed or the disaster or emergency has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist and terminates the state of public health or emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of public health emergency may continue for longer than thirty days unless renewed by the governor.

B. The legislature, in consultation with the public health authority, by a petition signed by a majority of the surviving members of either house, may terminate a state of public health emergency at any time. This petition terminating the public health emergency may establish a period during which no other declaration of public health emergency may be issued. Thereupon, the governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of public health or emergency.

Edwards said the lawsuit was filed Monday in the 19th Judicial District Court and is a petition for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.

Edwards called the house members who signed the petition "misguided" and said that if the petition were to stand then Louisiana would be the only state in the country without a public health emergency declaration in place, which could put federal aid funding in jeopardy.

He also said that the state constitution does not allow for one chamber of the legislature to overturn an emergency proclamation issued by the governor.

He also called into question a statement issued by Attorney General Jeff Landry over the weekend that supports the petition filed by the house to terminate the governor's public health emergency order.

You can read the governor's lawsuit in full below:

That press briefing can be viewed below.

You can read more on Hurricane Zeta here.

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