AG Austin Knudsen Dismisses Case against Gallatin County Bar
Montana’s Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen today exercised his supervisory powers in the Gallatin City-County Board of Health and Health Officer Matt Kelley versus Rocking R Bar case.
Knudsen described what happened on Thursday morning.
“My office this morning ordered the Gallatin County Attorney to dismiss a civil action that they were prosecuting against a local business in Bozeman,” said Knudsen. “That was over violating the 10 o'clock curfew for Coronavirus. So we ordered that case dismissed."
Knudsen said he believed the business had done all it could to obey the COVID restrictions, but decided to disobey the early closing time.
“This business had been following all the mandates, but you know, businesses are struggling right now,” he said. “I think this business owner was struggling with this place and he decided, you know what, we're going to stay open past 10 o'clock, as is his right under the Montana Constitution, and the county health board decided to come down on him for that.”
Knudsen said he and Governor Greg Gianforte are of one mind when it comes to the 10:00 p.m. closing time ordinance.
“Governor Gianforte yesterday rolled back the 10 o'clock curfew on the state side,” he said. “And once he did that, I just don't see any rational basis for keeping a 10 o'clock curfew on from the county side. It's just overreach, and it's devastating to Montana workers and small businesses. I just, I think small businesses are in a lot better place to know what to do for themselves and their families and their communities, and that's what this is about.”
When asked about counties like Missoula who will not be following the Governor’s expanded directives starting on Friday, Knudsen related a story.
“One of my favorite places in the world was Santa Fe Reds in Bozeman, “he said. “I've been going to that place since I was a young child literally, and they closed last week permanently because of this. Its stuff like that that frankly makes me really angry, and I think business owners and individuals are in a lot better place to know how to handle this themselves than some unelected officials on the county health board.”
Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy explained why she and the Board of Health were delaying the adoption of Governor Gianforte’s new directive here.
(photo courtesy of NBC Montana)
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