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Turner leery of petition to overturn order

Thursday, April 30, 2020
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State Rep. Chris Turner says even though Gov. John Bel Edwards’ decision to extend Louisiana’s stay-at-home order “deflated and upset” him, he’s not ready to sign a petition to overturn the extension — at least not in the petition’s original form.

“It kind of scares me a little bit,” Turner said Tuesday about Rep. Alan Seabaugh’s petition that would cancel the extension and prohibit the governor from issuing any more restrictive coronavirus order for at least 60 days.

The reason: Rescinding the order could threaten billions of federal dollars coming to Louisiana from FEMA to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Edwards, on Monday, extended the current stay-at-home order until May 15. Louisiana is still trying to quell the spread of the coronavirus and has not yet met the federal threshold for economic reopening.

Turner, who owns a pharmacy in Oak Grove, said while he doesn’t support the extension, he understands why Edwards took the action.

“He said over and over again ‘we want to open up,’ but we have to hit the numbers,” Turner said. “I want to open up, but I also do not want to open up and then have to close again.”

Some medical research warns that a fast reopening without paying attention to the coronavirus numbers could lead to a resurgence of cases and another shutdown.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder said he, too, is “incredibly frustrated,” but like Turner, is concerned about the wording of the initial petition.

“I understand what they wanted to accomplish with this, but the unintended consequences could do much more harm than good,” Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, said in a statement released Tuesday night.

Schexnayder indicated he wanted Edwards to consider a regional or parish approach to reopening.

“We’re actively working on every possible solution to safely open our economy and get our families back to work in accordance to President Trump’s three-phase plan,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look at every possible scenario and continue to work without rest until we get our people back to work. That’s our obligation and our duty, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”