Lawmakers Weigh In On Governor’s Plan To Reopen Illinois As Challenges To Executive Authority Persist

ILLINOIS — Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen the state was met with mixed reactions from state lawmakers.

A downstate representative who sued the governor over the stay-at-home order said the state can’t wait for a vaccine or for a highly effective treatment to fully reopen.

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, lauded the plan.

“And when you talk about regulation and making sure that the opening is done smart, with data and with regulations, we’re on the right track,” Ford said.

Ford said some will still want to open things up right away.

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said he was glad to see a plan that included regional considerations. The problem, he said, is the lack of legislative oversight.

“We need to restore the balance of power between the legislative branch and the executive branch,” McConchie said. “Especially if this is going to be a long term crisis, which the governor certainly seemed to indicate.”

Pritzker’s five-phase plan details the metrics regions of the state must meet to advance through the stages of the plan. The state is in the second phase, with certain nonessential businesses allowed to provide curbside service.

To move out of the second phase, a region must have under a 20 percent COVID-19 positivity rate and an increase of no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period. The region must also have no overall increase in COVID-19 cases at hospitals for 28 days.

Salons and health clubs could reopen in the third phase. Schools and daycares would be allowed to open in the fourth phase, which would also allow for gatherings of up to 50 people. To reach Phase 4, the governor said there would need to be another 28 days of no increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations for the region.

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said the metrics in the governor’s plan may need to be adjusted.

“You can’t get to Phase 5 by [late August], that’s crazy,” Batinick said.

In the final phase, the state’s economy would be fully reopened with the return of conventions and concerts, but that won’t happen until there’s a vaccine or a widely available and highly effective treatment for COVID-19.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, said that’s untenable.

“A vaccine, a treatment, we simply cannot wait for that and [Pritzker] needs to realize that sooner than later,” Bailey said.

The state should follow the Illinois Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, Bailey said.

“We need county control,” Bailey said. “That’s exactly how Illinois proposes and he continues to completely disavow that.”

Bailey said he will continue to challenge the governor’s executive authority in court.

Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said the plan is the “kind of forward-looking plan” the state’s residents have been expecting.

“It offers hope during economic dark days while reminding everyone of how dangerous and deadly this virus remains,” Harmon said in a statement. “That another 176 people lost their lives to COVID-19 in the past day tells us that the enemy is still out there. We will get through this together by following the advice of medical professionals and public health experts.”

Read the full Restore Illinois plan here.

The Center Square – Greg Bishop

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