Kentucky Republicans have voiced opposition to Gov. Andy Beshear’s COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, but arguably none have been as direct as a couple of representatives were on Twitter on Thursday night.
State Rep. Savannah Maddox and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie talked about bringing “the smackdown” on Beshear for his “unilateral decrees” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Massie tweeted that he’s hopeful that Beshear “will roll back his soul crushing edicts in December” because of the fear that the state legislature will “smack down” his policies when it reconvenes in January.
Beshear has argued that his orders have saved lives. And the tough talk from some in the GOP ranks occurs as the state has had back-to-back days of more than 1,200 new infections along with a record number of hospitalizations.
“The smackdown is in fact coming because never again should Kentuckians be subject to the issuance of unilateral decrees on behalf of the executive branch without an appropriate balance of power among the three coequal branches of government,” Maddox said in response.
Maddox represents the 61st District in the state House of Representatives. She’s vocally opposed Beshear’s response to COVID-19 since the pandemic first reached Kentucky.
Massie, who represents the state’s 4th District as congressman, tweeted earlier Thursday that a small restaurant owner in his district was struggling to stay in business because of Beshear’s restaurant capacity restrictions. Massie has no involvement with the state General Assembly.
“Our governor is devastating independent restaurants in Kentucky,” he said. Restaurants in Kentucky are currently required to limit their dine-in capacity to 50%, per Beshear’s “healthy at work” orders.
Both Massie and Maddox have previously voiced opposition to mask mandates as well. Massie previously tweeted that Beshear was “intoxicated... with power.”
It’s certainly not the first time Beshear has faced opposition to his executive orders and mandates for businesses amid the pandemic. The governor has been sued for some of his emergency orders, and judges in Boone and Scott counties previously issued temporary restraining orders on Beshear’s mandates.
Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron has joined the effort to fight Beshear’s orders, as he previously said the Democratic governor “simply does not have the authority to act as a one-man legislature, even during a pandemic.”
Beshear and Cameron’s offices presented oral arguments to the Kentucky Supreme Court last month. The state Supreme Court is expected to determine whether to uphold or strike down dozens of Beshear’s emergency orders, but the timetable for a ruling is unknown.
Beshear has said previously that rolling back his mandates would cause Kentucky to be like “the wild west” amid the pandemic. He said his mandates have been about more than business restrictions for safety. His office has also given schools flexibility on how they operate and allowed emergency responders to collect workers’ compensation if they have to stay home because they’ve contracted the virus.
Beshear has also said that issuing these emergency orders is well within his given power as governor.
“These are emergency powers that are provided by the legislature to the governor to respond in a time like this,” he said previously. “But if we want to argue in a court, let’s do it. I’m not afraid of courts. That’s what I used to do.”