Baker County Commission Chairman Bill Harvey is supporting a lawsuit filed last week against Oregon Gov. Kate Brown by a Baker City church and other plaintiffs who contend the governor’s coronavirus emergency declaration has exceeded the 30-day limit set in the Oregon Constitution.
Harvey is one of 11 people, including several other Baker County residents, who are listed in a motion seeking to designate them as intervenors supporting the plaintiffs.
Baker County Circuit Court Judge Matt Shirtcliff approved the motion naming them as intervenors during a hearing Thursday morning.
Among the other intervenors are two elected officials from Grant County — Sheriff Glenn Palmer and his brother, Commissioner Sam Palmer.
Baker County residents also listed in the motion to intervene, which was filed Tuesday in Baker County Circuit Court, are Jerry Shaw, Matthew Cunningham, Jacob Brown, Samuel Brown and Douglass Hills.
The intervenors are represented by Kevin Mannix, a Salem attorney and former state legislator.
Harvey said Wednesday morning that he seeks to join the lawsuit as an individual and as a business owner, not in his capacity as an elected county commissioner.
Harvey owns a home-building company.
“This has affected my business and the industry I have supported for 40 years,” Harvey said. “It has also affected the entire county, and that bothers the hell out of me.”
Harvey said he agrees with the plaintiffs, including lead plaintiff Elkhorn Baptist Church in Baker City, that a section in the Oregon Constitution limits the governor to declaring a public health emergency for 30 days unless the Legislature votes to extend it.
Harvey, in an affidavit included with the motion to intervene in the lawsuit, wrote: “I am a home builder and I see the strains on the home construction market which are developing. The agriculture community and the tourism community, which are the two largest elements of the Baker County economy, have been hard hit by the direct and indirect efforts of the Governor’s Executive Orders relating to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The other Baker County residents seeking intervenor status are Shaw, who owns the Inland Cafe in Baker City; Cunningham, a member of St. Francis de Sales Catholic parish; Jacob and Samuel Brown, co-owners of Landmark Contracting LLC; and Hills, who owns an auto parts store, auto repair shop and towing company in Baker City. Shaw, the Browns and Hills have lost business and had to lay off employees due to the governor’s executive orders, according to the motion. Cunningham and his family have been unable to attend Mass, according to the motion.