GOP legislators question Pritzker's authority to extend stay-at-home order
Three Republican state representatives Wednesday questioned Gov. J.B. Pritzker's authority to extend his stay-at-home order beyond May 1 without support from the Illinois legislature.
Reps. Dan Ugaste of Geneva, Norine Hammond of Macomb and C.D. Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville said the emergency power Pritzker has allows him to impose one 30-day stay-at-home order, but the law is entirely silent beyond that.
They say the state House and Senate need to gather in Springfield to discuss an extension.
Pritzker last week said he was extending his stay-at-home order, with some modifications, through the end of the May.
"If we are all in this together, the governor cannot continue to act alone in these decisions," Ugaste said. "In doing so, he's breaking a system of checks and balances."
Asked about his authority at his daily news conference on Sunday, Pritzker said the "obvious answer" is that the governor has authority to enact such measures.
But Hammond said that if the legislative intent was for the governor to have the power to continually renew such orders beyond 30 days, it would have spelled it out concretely.
"It can't be read that way, that the legislature is going to intentionally sideline itself," he said.
Davidsmeyer called on the leaders of the General Assembly to call the two houses into session, and if they don't, then Pritzker should make that request.
Lawmakers should meet in person rather than vote remotely to ensure that the elected representatives cast votes, he added.
Legislators can do so while socially distancing, wearing masks, practicing proper hand-washing and using technology so the public can see their discussions, Davidsmeyer said.
Both Hammond and Davidsmeyer said their more rural areas should not necessarily be governed by the socially distancing protocols required in the Chicago area, and that counties should be given the authority to come up with a phased approach to reopening their economies.
Local leaders have the knowledge to adjust should their communities experience a spike in COVID-19 cases along the way.
Ugaste said that discussions in his suburban district have not reached that level of detail on reopening the economy.
The lawmakers' call Wednesday comes two days after another Republican legislator, state Rep. Darren Bailey of downstate Xenia, obtained a temporary restraining order allowing him to ignore the governor's mandate.
Pritzker is appealing the ruling.