Later today, the Illinois House of Representatives will convene for the first time since adjourning in early March due to COVID-19. For weeks, House Republicans sent letters, held press conferences, and sponsored petition drives to call on Governor Pritzker to use a regional, data-driven approach based on local input to safely reopening Illinois’ economy. The Governor finally introduced his Restore Illinois plan on May 5, but it wholly lacked input from locally elected officials and experts that have been developing locally-focused safe reopening plans.
In response to this lack of local input or engagement, State Representatives Dan Brady (R-Bloomington), Tim Butler (R-Springfield), Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), and Mike Marron (R-Fithian) held a press conference via Zoom this morning to call for a vote by the General Assembly on the Governor’s reopening plan.
“Many constituents of the 87th District, along with citizens and public officials from across our state, have expressed very valid concerns with this plan over the past two weeks,” said Rep. Butler. “With the General Assembly convening today for the first time in over two months, it is paramount Illinois’ legislative branch of government has the opportunity to have a direct say on the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan. We as legislators stay in communication with the people we represent in our districts and their concerns deserve a vote by their elected representatives.”
Rep. Butler sent a letter to the Governor and the leaders of each of the four caucuses in the House and Senate on Monday outlining the need for the General Assembly to vote on his plan. No Response was received from the Governor.
Rep. Dan Brady, whose 105th District is made up almost exclusively of McLean County, which has had less 200 total COVID-19 cases, pointed out the disparity that the overly broad regions in the Governor’s plan ignore.
“We are simply not facing the same challenges in most communities today as they are in Chicago, and yet decisions about reopening our businesses and communities are being made by the same single source – Governor Pritzker,” Rep. Brady said. “The Governor needs to begin allowing for local input today, by agreeing to let members of the General Assembly weigh in on behalf of our communities and make needed changes to his reopening plan.”
Rep. Ryan Spain pointed out the work done by local leaders to develop safe, locally targeted reopening plans that have been ignored by the Governor.
“I strongly disagree with the Governor’s efforts to penalize or weaponize federal funds against communities that happen to disagree with the pace and regionalization of his reopening strategies,” said Rep. Spain. “My region posed our Heart of Illinois plan weeks ago and sent it to the Governor for his approval or feedback. His IDPH does not disagree with our metrics. Despite that, the Governor has been unwilling to consider thoughtful alternatives, so legislative approval or dismissal is the only due process outlet for revision available to my constituents.”
Rep. Mike Marron pointed to the repeated failures of the administration’s Department of Employment Security as more evidence of the need for local input to get the reopening plan right.
“When planning how we are going to pull ourselves out of this mess, I do not think it is responsible for us to leave it all up to the one man that created the current situation,” said Rep. Marron. “It is time to let the local communities take back control of their livelihoods and discuss together locally on how best to proceed.”
Video of the press conference is available here