ILLINOIS (IRN) — With new COVID-19 mitigation orders from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, lawmakers continue to feel left out. Some are looking to represent their constituents in plans that are changing Illinois’ economic landscape.
Since March, businesses have been on and off and on again, with capacity limits bouncing around, all driven by the Pritzker administration’s use of data it reports out. When asked Thursday to explain restrictions, Pritzker was visibly frustrated.
“I’m not going to have individual discussions right here about each one of these items, happy to have you review them all, and then come back,” Pritzker said to a reporter Tuesday after announcing new mitigations on businesses. “Talk to a doctor. Find out what they say and then come back.”
The governor announced a slew of regulations on capacity and operations for businesses across the board starting Friday. “We’ve tried very hard over time to show you what kinds of things work and what kinds of things don’t,” Pritzker said. “These kinds of things work.”
Some lawmakers have said daily press conferences aren’t enough. They’ve called for detailed public hearings. Last week, state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, called for public hearings, or they’d start holding townhall hearings. Democratic legislative leaders have not indicated they will call public hearings. There’s also frustration that the fall session that was supposed to begin Tuesday was canceled and the governor doesn’t seem poised to call a special session as he has the power to do.
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, said it’s time to bring lawmakers back. “We deserve the concrete data that we’ve been demanding for months,” Bourne said. “We need this, the public needs this and deserves this, we need hearings, we need audits, and we need formal legislative input.”
State Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said the governor is being transparent with the metrics he’s used and the actions he’s taken, and that the governor has the authority to act as an executive short term. “But long term policies should be set out by the General Assembly, that’s our role,” Martwick said. “So, yeah, we absolutely should be having hearings and discussions and we should be playing a role in this process.”
Bourne said she wants to reign in the governor’s authority. “The Legislature can and should pass a law that says that the governor can issue one emergency executive order and then needs to come back to the legislature for more response,” Bourne said.
The state statute for the governor’s executive authority is being challenged in the courts with mixed interpretation on whether the governor only has the authority for 30 days, or if that authority allows for revolving orders, month-after-month as Pritzker has issued.
Lawmakers are off until sometime in January, returning to Springfield just before the new legislature is seated.