Rep. Johnson Asks Gov. Cooper to Give Counties The Authority to Open Up Local Economies

Published Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

Representative Jake Johnson, who represents Polk, Henderson and Transylvania counties.

On Thursday, April 16th, Representative Jake Johnson sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper requesting that when the current Stay-At-Home Order expires at the end of April, individual counties be allowed to decide if, and to what extent, businesses can reopen. This coming after many counties across the state have sent letters to the Governor asking him to allow counties to make their own decisions on how to proceed once his order expires.

Johnson, who represents Polk, Henderson and Transylvania counties in the North Carolina General Assembly said in his letter As a former county commissioner chair, I believe that these boards, county departments and county employees are well suited to know what is best for their individual communities. We need strategies that are tailored to each county’s unique situation and needs, as opposed to a one size fits all solution.”

He went on to say, “I believe that we are at a crossroads that will be looked at as a critical turning point in our state’s economic future. I do not believe that many of the businesses in our state, and the small businesses in particular, will be able to survive another month or more out of work.” His letter emphasizes the importance of getting the economy back on track and getting people back to work; especially with the length of time it is taking to administer relief programs.

The letter also points out that this is an effort to work with the Governor and state agencies to open the economy, pointing out that many counties who are pushing for these measures would be willing to have a baseline of commonly agreed upon guidelines such as: stay-at-home continuation for vulnerable populations, no national or international events or conferences, no large athletic events, etc.… In his letter, Johnson also highlights that the majority of commission chairs he has been in contact with would welcome weekly updates and suggested guidelines from NCDHHS. Furthermore, Johnson proposed that counties who do not feel comfortable assuming decision-making authority can refer to state suggested guidelines based on population and number of cases. He expects to see a lot of similarities in county policies throughout the region.

Rep. Johnson predicts that most commission chairs across the state would not wish to end all social distancing and sanitation efforts immediately, but many would like the ability roll back the guidelines gradually to allow businesses to get back to work in a safe an responsible manner. Johnson ended by encouraging the Governor to take action and saying, “…this is an important step on the journey to get North Carolina back open for business in a safe and responsible way…”

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