CHICAGO (CBS) — The subject of when things will reopen from the stay-at-home order to fight the coronavirus pandemic has led to defiance across the state.
Downstate Madison County began reopening on Wednesday in defiance of the order, and now, some lawmakers are gearing up for a fight.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, there could be some sparring when the Illinois General Assembly meets in Springfield next week.
“More people will get sick and die,” Gov. JB Pritzker warned.
Pritzker said it is critical to reopen the state slowly, safely, and regionally after May 30. But pushback about business closures is mounting.
The latest pushback is a City of Peoria resolution, which cites a “commercial inconsistency” between big-box stores being allowed to stay open versus small stores.
The resolution demands that Gov. Pritzker “review and revise his executive order.”
“The biggest concern a lot of us have is that the governor has been acting unilaterally,” said state Rep. Tom Morrison (R-Palatine).
Morrison wants to take it a step further. He has drafted legislation that would require the approval of the Illinois General Assembly before Pritzker is allowed to make any more emergency declarations – effective immediately.
“No one is questioning his initial response, but beyond the 30 days, the question is, should the governor just have the ability to act unilaterally without legislative input?” Morrison said. “We are a coequal branch of government.”
That legislation could have some legs, now that lawmakers are planning to meet for a three-day legislative session next week. It will be the first in more than two months.
“It’s their right to introduce legislation – I mean I think everybody understands that what I’ve been doing is following the science and the data,” Gov. Pritzker said.
Both the Illinois House and Illinois Senate will hold session from May 20 through May 22. The Senate will meet at the statehouse, while the House will meet at the Bank of Springfield Center.
Legislative sessions will have guidelines. House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) sent a letter to Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Westchester) – a COVID-19 pledge for lawmakers to sign, outlining in-person meeting and safety protocols.
They include that lawmakers must be tested before heading down to Springfield. The speaker said lawmakers will focus on essential legislation like the looming budget.
Lawmakers will focus on essential legislation such as the looming budget. And considering the House and Senate are controlled by Democrats, GOP-led legislation like Morrison’s could hit almost an immediate roadblock.
Kozlov spoke to Durkin Wednesday afternoon, and he was very concerned about what lawmakers will even be allowed to bring up for discussion. The topics are defined in a joint House-Senate proclamation.
So Durkin said issues like ethics reform and property tax relief won’t even be allowed on the floor.
Meanwhile for an in-person meeting is required by law to pass any legislation, but social distancing is still mandated. The House, for instance, will be meeting at the convention center in Springfield to allow for social distancing.
State representatives will have to wear face masks, and they will have to drive and stay alone for the duration of the session. The Senate is still working on its safety plan.