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Illinois House Republicans push to end Pritzker’s ‘unilateral’ COVID-19 emergency orders

IL House Republicans push to end Pritzker’s COVID-19 emergency orders
IL House Republicans push to end Pritzker’s COVID-19 emergency orders(WGEM)
Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 4:16 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - House Republicans are renewing their call for lawmakers to end Gov. JB Pritzker’s use of emergency orders during the pandemic.

They argue the legislature should always have a voice in important decisions to share resident concerns and keep the executive branch in check. Republicans noted Pritzker had issued 91 executive orders since the pandemic started. They also said Democratic leaders of both chambers continue to prevent lawmakers from stepping in to discuss the changes.

Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) said he started researching surrounding states to understand how their emergency orders work.

“Almost all of them in this area, you have to go back to the legislature to continue an emergency order. It’s not just automatic that the executive gets to declare an emergency still exists,” Ugaste said. “Therefore, I’m going to continue to act alone.”

GOP: Pritzker has kept the co-equal branch on the sidelines

Ugaste introduced this proposal in February, and it gained significant support from the entire House Republican Caucus. However, Democrats kept the plan locked in the Rules Committee.

Republicans argue that it has kept the co-equal branch of government on the sidelines. They hope this bill can move out of the Rules Committee at some point next week.

“Many of our colleagues, unfortunately, are not willing to take a stand politically. So, I think that is what’s holding it back,” said Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb).

Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) and Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) consistently supported efforts throughout the pandemic. A spokesperson for Welch said the Speaker continues to support any decisions from the Pritzker administration to help save lives during this pandemic.

Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) stressed he also follows science and data to inform decisions. He said a Democrat previously noted that lawmakers may come to the same conclusion, but they need to do this publicly and transparently. Batinick said Illinois hasn’t done that yet.

“We can’t accept a process simply because we like an outcome,” Batinick said. “That outcome might change. You look at other states. I don’t think the governor should have the authority to do nearly two years of 30-day emergency orders and do all these rules and mandates any more than I think Gov. DeSantis in Florida should be doing mandates saying you can’t add the layer of protection of masks at the local level. Right? That’s not the way it’s meant to be done.”

Batinick stressed states have legislative input for a reason. He said the public’s lack of trust in government became worse during the pandemic due to the lack of transparency.

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