GOP agitates for chance to negotiate COVID-19 re-opening

  • In this Wednesday evening, May 13, 2020 photo, An Alpine Chapel member writes on a window at Wauconda Care, a healthcare and rehabilitation center in Wauconda, Ill. About 100 seniors live there and 61 residents and workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Church members wrote inspirational messages on the windows and delivered meals for the healthcare workers. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP)

    In this Wednesday evening, May 13, 2020 photo, An Alpine Chapel member writes on a window at Wauconda Care, a healthcare and rehabilitation center in Wauconda, Ill. About 100 seniors live there and 61 residents and workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Church members wrote inspirational messages on the windows and delivered meals for the healthcare workers. (John Starks/Daily Herald via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/14/2020 3:28 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- House Republicans are agitating for some say in how Illinois reopens for business during the COVID-19 pandemic, urging majority Democrats who have called a long-delayed legislative session to add it to the agenda.

During a conference call with reporters Thursday, Rep. Mike Murphy said Gov. J.B. Pritzker must be moved off his 'úone-size-fits-all approach that has been devastating to families and small businesses." He was referring to the Democratic governor's executive orders that have closed schools, shut non-essential businesses and kept people at home to prevent spreading the virus.

 

Lawmakers have been absent from Springfield since early March to keep from creating a Capitol-borne COVID-19 cluster. Democrats who control the House and Senate on Wednesday called for convening the General Assembly May 20-22.

Also Thursday, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington released a letter he sent to Senate President Don Harmon requesting a public hearing on the Democratic governor's five-stage 'úRestore Illinois'Ě plan, which Brady said 'úshould be vetted and revised."

'úWhile our constituents are doing their part to contain the spread of this deadly disease, they are also concerned with the economic toll this plan will have on their businesses and communities,'Ě Brady said.

Democrats have been clear: They plan to dispense with a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, staring down a $7 billion pandemic-fueled deficit over the next two years, and possibly create financial assistance packages for families and businesses battered by the pandemic. They have no plans to fiddle with 'úRestore Illinois." Pritzker maintains that he considered ideas from around the state in its development.

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Murphy, a Springfield Republican, said the plan "doesn't allow nearly enough direct input from local officials." The recovery roadmap divides the state into four regions that can independently move into phases that permit more reopening of business and social integration based on how COVID-19 is affecting the area.

Critics say central and southern Illinois are ready to move ahead now and shouldn't have to wait for Pritzker's stay-at-home order to expire May 30. Others complain that the suburbs surrounding Chicago - populous but not nearly as hard hit by COVID-19 as the city - nonetheless are lumped into the same region and therefore can't reopen sooner.

'úThe governor continues to mislead people to say that we want to just swing doors wide open,'Ě Republican Jacksonville Rep. C.D. Davidsmeier asserted. 'úThat's not what we're asking. We're asking for a way to start opening the economy, so that businesses can slowly and responsibly do this.'Ě

Republicans on the call seemed unmoved by Wednesday's ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidating Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order and directing him to cooperate on a plan with Republicans who control the Legislature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Several lawsuits, including two by GOP legislators, have been filed in circuit court claiming Pritzker exceeded his power to declare a statewide emergency and impose the stay-at-home decree.

'úThere are business owners who have filed suit, there are suits across the state. That's one avenue to be check on the governor's power,'Ě Morrisonville Republican Rep. Avery Bourne said. 'úWe are the other avenue and we're asking for the opportunity to be that check.'Ě

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Check out more of the AP's coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Follow Political Writer John O'Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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