ILLINOIS (IRN) — Although Gov. J.B. Pritzker has downplayed an emergency rule that could mean misdemeanor charges for any person who violates the governor’s stay-at-home order by operating a business, Republicans remain opposed the rule.
Pritzker on Monday said the rule was meant to be a less punitive way to get businesses to comply than revoking licenses or seeking business closures.
“We don’t want to have to pull licenses from people,” Pritzker said. “We don’t want to have to shut a business down. What we want is for people to comply and we want to give them this type of citation as an alternative.”
A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Pritzker said the rule now in effect wouldn’t be that severe.
“Well again, this is a citation, you’ve heard of a traffic citation,” Pritzker said. “This is another kind of citation.”
State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said a Class A misdemeanor was not a citation. He also said prosecutors decide on criminal charges and judges determine sentences for convictions, not the governor.
Wheeler said he is prepared to move to suspend the rule in a commission meeting on Wednesday. He said the governor needs to work with the legislature.
“Let us put together a piece of legislation that makes it a petty offense, or a business offense, so it’s completely taken away from being a regular person going to have to deal with jail time,” he said.
Wheeler said the fact the rule is in effect for 150 days, which puts its sunset into the second week of October, contradicts the governor’s reopening plan with different phases allowing businesses to open in phases. Phase 3 could come as early as the end of this month.
“These restrictions will be reviewed by the Department in coordination with the different stages of the Restore Illinois plan and the latest public health guidance and metrics,” the Illinois Department of Public Health stated in documents attached to its filing on Friday.
If the rule is not blocked by the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said there should be a court challenge.
“A few weeks ago we saw an overreach with the administration with the work comp commission and they will suffer the same fate with this rule change if that is going to be implemented, which I think it was a few days ago, but a court will throw it out,” Durkin said.
Wheeler said he has been getting thousands of emails and calls opposing the rule. He said he plans to make a motion to suspend the rule when the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules meets in Springfield on Wednesday.