Governor Asa Hutchinson used the fact that a business held a state license as leverage against a business to enforce one of his Covid-19 orders when he suspended a license. In this instance, it was the concert venue, TempleLive, in Fort Smith that had a concert scheduled but in his edict the Governor had arbitrarily decided such venues could not open for three more days.
To keep his order from being ignored, the Governor issued a cease and desist order and then jumped to the action of temporarily suspending the business’ license to sell alcohol. This effectively stopped the event. It also set the alarming precedent that any license you might hold can and will be used against you to force you to comply even with questionable orders of the Governor.
Instead of trying to enforce his order with an injunction, where the validity of his order would likely be challenged, he bypassed that safeguard by just having a state agency summarily suspend the license. WHERE WAS DUE PROCESS?
Governor Hutchinson’s strong-arm tactic shifted the burden to the business. which could appeal to the agency that suspended the license and which was no remedy at all because the concert date would have already passed.
This tactic takes Arkansas down a dangerous path. The tactic is a problem even if you want the Governor’s Covid orders to be strictly enforced and made even stronger. It is a problem even if you would ordinarily not care about this particular business, about concerts, or about the sale of alcohol. It takes us down a dangerous path.
Have you stopped to think about how much of our lives are subject to a license or permits? What if the state uses the same tactic to revoke your licenses or privileges for a reason unrelated to the conditions for holding the license or permit?
As Americans we place a great value on our freedoms. Yet at every turn we are licensed, regulated, and taxed. Even to drive a car to work to make a living, you need a driver’s license and a license for the vehicle. And that is just the beginning of licenses and permits that apply to your work, your activities, and your property.
Every business must get permits, licenses, etc. When you go into a business (if Asa lets you) start noticing licenses and permits posted in businesses.
Many occupations require a state license. Arkansas imposes more occupational licenses than most states and we are just a small state.
Quickly you can see that Governor Hutchinson’s tactic of suspending a license to enforce an executive order is a huge expansion of government power over you. The tactic is leverage over everyone. The tactic is tyranny.
Small businesses are the most vulnerable to such strong armed abuse.
By the way, Governor Hutchinson was not the first governor to use a state license as leverage to enforce a Covid order. His action mirrored the tactic used by Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat, when she suspended a barber’s license for not complying with her Covid order shutting down such businesses. Ultimately, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that barber had the RIGHT to work.
Tell your elected officials to never go down that path again.
The legislature needs to pass a law (and also propose a constitutional amendment) to prohibit the executive branch from abusing licensing and permitting powers to enforce compliance with unrelated orders.