Kentucky Politics

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has filed a court motion asking for a judge to determine whether Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order for all Kentuckians to wear masks in public places is legal.The development comes a day after Beshear issued the mask requirement, which begins today at 5:00 p.m.

On Friday, Cameron asked Scott Circuit Judge Brian Privett if Beshear’s order “complies with the current temporary restraining order stopping enforcement of COVID-19 executive orders that are not in compliance with state law,” according to a release issued by Cameron’s office.

Privett ruled on Thursday that Beshear’s other executive orders dealing with coronavirus don’t apply to 548 agri-tourism businesses around the state—the ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles on behalf of a Scott County orchard.

In a separate but related development Friday afternoon, Gov. Beshear and his administration filed an appeal of the ruling with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. In the appeal, the administration said the order exempting agri-tourism operations is so broad, it threatens public health and the “safe-reopening” of Kentucky’s economy.

In the appeal, the administration said the circuit ruling was not only erroneous, it was dangerous.

During a Friday afternoon press briefing, Beshear said that the court’s order doesn’t apply to his mask mandate. “That applies only to executive orders and we think it’s wrong on that,” Beshear said. “But we also did an administrative reg—an emergency regulation, separate and apart—that hadn’t been enjoined, includes all of it and is in effect.”

Along with Beshear’s executive order requiring masks starting Friday, he issued an emergency administrative regulation to the same effect.

In his statement earlier in the day, Cameron said that Beshear should have consulted his office and the Republican-led legislature before issuing the mask requirement.

“Had the governor consulted with our office and the leadership of the General Assembly on his order prior to its issuance, this step would have been unnecessary,” Cameron wrote. “The governor has refused input on his executive orders, despite offers of assistance. This pattern has led to numerous challenges in court, all of which he has lost.”

Cameron said that his motion doesn’t have to do with whether it is appropriate to wear a mask.

“It is my belief that masks are an important tool in fighting this pandemic,” Cameron wrote.

correction: the number of agritourism businesses effected by the ruling is 548

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.