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State Sen. Givhan: Ivey’s call not to open churches ‘unconstutional,’ Says he is ‘not a fan’ of a special session later in 2020

As of Thursday at 5 p.m. last week, many businesses in Alabama were allowed to reopen with some conditions, as the state’s shutdown order resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic subsided.

However, some things were not allowed to reopen just yet, including churches, restaurants and bars.

During a radio interview with Huntsville’s WVNN on Friday, State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) said he was hearing complaints about Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision not to allow churches to reopen from constituents, which he argued was unconstitutional.

“We’re hearing as much as anything that people are mad churches aren’t allowed to open on the same basis businesses are,” Givhan said. “Now that’s something I think is purely unconstitutional and don’t understand why that’s being done. Somebody said businesses are set at 50% of their occupancy. Somebody went into Lowe’s the other day and noticed the occupancy was 2,000 people. You can get 1,000 people in Lowe’s, but you can’t get, you know, 50 people in Whitesburg Baptist Church. Something is wrong with that picture. I’m getting complaints about that.”

Givhan also said he was hearing complaints about difficulties in obtaining unemployment compensation given the system put in place by the state’s Department of Labor has been overwhelmed.

“I think you’re going to have a race to see who files the legislation to change the state health officer’s appointment,” he said.

He added he didn’t want that to be an indictment of current State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, who Givhan said was “doing what he thinks is right and is working very diligently.” However, the power given to Harris’ officer was worthy of scrutiny.

“The reality is he doesn’t report to the governor,” Givhan said. “I think somebody with that much power needs to report to the governor.”

He added that was an issue raised by constituents and something he said with which he has had discussions with other legislators.

On the passage of the budgets by the legislature, the Huntsville Republican state senator said he was of the belief of completing what needed to be done as soon as possible and not returning in 2020 for a special session, which would be called by Ivey. Instead, Givhan argued a supplemental could be done in 2021.

“We can do a supplemental budget in the beginning of next year’s session,” he said. “I think that’s probably a better way to approach it, and that’s if we’ve got any more money to spend. We’ve got conditional appropriations in there — $11 million conditional appropriation, assuming the budget goes through that is being proposed, that went through committee.”

“I’m just not a fan of a special session unless we need to do something specifically to deal with prisons — I’m not seeing the reason for having a special session.”

Givhan said there could be the possibility of a special session to address prison reform or gambling but was dismissive of a special session for Medicaid expansion.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

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