Following Governor Kay Ivey’s press conference on Tuesday announcing the initial phase of her plan to reopen Alabama’s economy, leaders in the state legislature released statements generally framing the announcement as a step in the right direction.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) was a member of the executive committee of Ivey’s coronavirus task force. In a statement, he said, “After consulting with the medical community and business leaders, it appears that we are starting to see a flattening in the curve of COVID-19 cases and that our hospitals will not be overwhelmed by those who contract the disease.”
“I applaud Governor Ivey for taking the first steps to reopen Alabama for business,” Marsh continued. “It was the right thing to do and I look forward to continuing to monitor the situation as we work to reopen all businesses in Alabama as soon as possible.”
“We can finally start to see light at the end of the tunnel, however as we work to reopen Alabama, the leaders of this state must lead. For this reason, I look forward to getting back to Montgomery as we work to approve budgets so we can provide some certainty to the education community and our state agencies,” the Senate leader concluded.
House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) released a lengthy statement calling the new “Safer At Home” order “a perfect balance between our current economic realities and the significant public health challenges that Alabama currently faces.”
Ledbetter’s full statement as follows:
The members of the House Republican Caucus commend Gov. Ivey for making a difficult decision and allowing many of Alabama’s small businesses to resume their operations.
Gov. Ivey’s revised public health order strikes a perfect balance between our current economic realities and the significant public health challenges that Alabama currently faces.
Allowing our retail businesses to reopen gives hope to the owners and employees and has the additional benefit of reducing crowds that have congregated in big box stores.
Authorizing elective surgeries to resume will allow both urban and rural hospitals to stop the financial hemorrhaging that resulted from the pandemic.
Opening our beaches with proper social distancing enforcement ensures that Alabama’s tourism industry will be able to operate during its important summer season.
Alabama faces a long road back to the historic economy we enjoyed just a few weeks ago, but Gov. Ivey’s revised public health order allows us to take the first step on that important journey.
The Alabama House Republican Caucus stands ready to do its part.
Many thanks to @GovernorKayIvey for beginning the process of re-opening Alabama! Retail, medical and beaches reopening with reasonable restrictions. On to the next step down in due time! Stay safe, Alabama!
— Senator Arthur Orr (@SenatorAOrr) April 28, 2020
State Sen. Chris Elliot (R-Fairhope), who has not shied away from being critical of Ivey’s handling of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic, stated on Tuesday, “The revised order issued by the State Health Officer and announced by Governor Ivey takes meaningful steps to reopen Alabama including our beaches.”
Elliot also pointed to the groundwork laid by the Alabama Small Business Commission Emergency Task Force’s “Subcommittee to Reopen the Economy” through their “Reopening Alabama Responsibly Phase One” plan. This subcommittee was formed by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, who reacted to Ivey’s Tuesday press conference in a statement of his own.
Elliot concluded, “I’m pleased that the Governor and State Health Officer have adopted many of the recommendations made by Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth’s Small Business Commission Reopen Alabama Task Force putting many small businesses back on equal footing with big box stores, getting most employees back to work, safely opening Alabama’s Beaches and allowing our hospitals and doctor’s offices to go back to seeing patients. The order continues to mandate the closure of restaurants (dining), barber shops and athletic facilities. My hope is that both the Governor and the State Health Officer will revisit this Order soon as conditions continue to improve so that those businesses still ordered closed can reopen.”
Update 3:19 p.m.:
State Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy) told Yellowhammer, “I appreciate the hard work of Governor Ivey and the steps to allow the majority of businesses in Alabama to re-open. Although I am greatly disappointed to see that closure orders have not been lifted on our churches, and all small businesses, that choice was hers to make. I strongly encourage Alabamians to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines as our economy re-opens. This will be vital to proving to Governor Ivey that we can safely re-open all businesses and churches without spreading this Wuhan virus.Use common sense. Wash your hands and keep your distance.”
He continued, “Finally, we must never forget that Communist China is responsible for this virus. I strongly support the use of state funds to encourage a “Buy American and Buy Alabama” campaign. If we can produce commercials reminding people to wear their seatbelts, I am certain that we can find funds to encourage Alabamians to choose American made products over products made in Communist China.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn