The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Aug. 4 on whether the state can fine businesses that violate emergency public health orders spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of businesses sued Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and two Cabinet secretaries in May, when many stores were still closed because of the state’s public health restrictions. Nonessential businesses that stayed open faced a fine of up to $5,000 a day.
In their lawsuit, filed in the 9th Judicial District in Curry County, business owners claim the state wasn’t justified in threatening to fine them under New Mexico’s Public Health Emergency Response Act.
The state argues “that public health measures are a traditional exercise of the State’s inherent police power” and that the Public Health Emergency Response Act “must be liberally construed to ensure that state agencies have the necessary tools to accomplish the statute’s goal of protecting public health.”
The New Mexico Republican Party helped organize the lawsuit, claiming the state’s actions have devastated the economy and hurt locally owned businesses.
Businesses involved in the lawsuit include K-Bob’s Steakhouse in Clovis; Frontier Auto Inc. and Body & Sol Fitness in Lovington; Monroe’s Restaurants in Albuquerque; Kemp’s Investments and Colfax Tavern & Diner in Colfax County; and J. Jones Massage in Hobbs. Full credits Associated Press

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