NEW ORLEANS — If you ask Governor John Bel Edwards, the state of Louisiana is currently under phase three restrictions.
“If we have legislators out there saying something different, they ought not be doing that,” Edwards said.
A petition filed by house republicans Friday would change that. That petition demands the governor undo his executive actions on COVID-19, thereby ending the public health emergency. Monday, the governor’s office filed its own petition, with a court, to put a stop to the house petition.
“It’s misguided thinking by some members of the house, quite frankly many of whom don’t really believe in what they’re doing or at least that’s what they told me,” Edwards said.
According to state law, the legislature can terminate a public health emergency, but must consult with the Department of Health. Edwards says that didn’t happen and the House can’t act on behalf of the entire legislature.
“A simple majority by one, the house, that just doesn’t cut the mustard,” Edwards said.
The state’s Attorney General, Jeff Landry, however, points to a different take. Over the weekend, Landry put out a statement saying the petition from the house to end the governor’s public health emergency was effective immediately.
“What we’re seeing is a struggle between the two branches of government,” said UNO political scientist Ed Chervenak.
Chervenak says with the state’s executive and legislative branches locked up, it’ll be the judicial branch to decide what happens next.
“We’ll probably have to wait for the courts to settle this dispute. That’s what courts do. They take a case or a controversy and this is certainly a controversary,” Chervenak said.
In the meantime, Edwards says restrictions and a mask mandate are in place. Edwards’ current executive action carries the state’s public health emergency until Nov. 6.
We reached out to Speaker Clay Schexnayder’s office and Rep. Blake Miquez, the chairman of the House Republican Legislative Delegation, but our calls were not returned.