County tables resolution on essential businesses

Tuesday, June 8, 2021
File photo

The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors tabled a resolution proposed to them Tuesday morning, which would have potentially allowed all local businesses to remain open at their discretion, regardless of being designated essential or nonessential as some were during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution was brought to the board by area resident Barbara Clayton, who told the board she felt mitigation efforts should be left up to individual business owners during such emergencies, rather than the government choosing "winners and losers." Her resolution claims "the denial and limitation on one's business is necessarily a denial and limitation on one's property, and infringes directly upon one's pursuit of life, liberty and happiness."

"We should never say that somebody else's choice of livelihood, somebody else's ability to feed their family, pay their mortgage, pay their employees, is less important than someone else's," Clayton told the board.

A majority of the board expressed their support for local businesses but were less-than-supportive of the resolution, questioning if it would have its intended affect. Board Chairman Bill Leupold said the resolution would only be a "feel-good gesture," and Supervisor Kim Wermersen pointed out businesses can already develop creative responses to state emergencies including a pandemic without such a resolution. He said the resolution should be submitted to the state government. He and the chairman cited recent examples of Gov. Kim Reynolds overruling local government mitigation decisions during the pandemic.

"We're doing the best we can," Wermersen said. "They can supersede what we do. We support businesses. We prove that every day. We support economic development. I guess I see it as a moot point, because it's not going to carry any weight, Barb. I'm sorry, I wish it did."

Supervisor Steve Clark said he felt it was a travesty that decisions were made at higher government levels to allow large corporate businesses to remain open during the pandemic while smaller businesses were made to close for a time. Clark motioned that the resolution be tabled until the board's June 29 meeting, so its members could consider the issue further before voting. The board agreed to put off a decision until then.

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