Lawmakers must have input into reopening decisions!

It’s been more than a year since Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued his first “stay-at-home” order – without any input from the co-equal legislative branch – in response to the incidence of COVID-19 in Illinois.

A year later, with vaccinations increasing and COVID-19 cases decreasing, Illinoisans are waiting for the next phase of reopening to begin, but the Governor still hasn’t released any details about moving forward. And lawmakers are still not being allowed any input in the decisions being made on behalf of the millions of people we represent.

We have continually pushed for increased transparency from the Pritzker Administration, including access to data the Governor has used to make his decisions. We have also continued to ask the Governor to involve lawmakers in making decisions that involve nearly every aspect of Illinoisans’ daily lives. Instead, Gov. Pritzker has chosen to operate unilaterally through 76 individual Executive Orders

The result? So far, the state’s COVID-19 response efforts have been marked with controversy, inconsistent standards for different regions, a broken unemployment benefits system, and relatively poor performance for the vaccination program. 

According to the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan, Illinois would not be allowed to resume normal operations until: “Either a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern, or there are no new cases over a sustained period.” 

It appears those conditions are being met, with COVID-19 positivity rates continuing to decline, and vaccination numbers and hospital capacity continuing to rise. So why hasn’t the Pritzker Administration released any details on how the state can move forward to Phase 5? 

Businesses and families need a path to normalcy. The Governor has been saying for weeks that a plan is coming. Why has it taken so long? 

Illinois has been, and continues to be, one of the most restrictive states in the nation; yet, we have the 14th highest death rate per capita. The past and current approach is clearly not working. 

I am urging the Governor to work with lawmakers, healthcare and other stakeholders, and employers to develop a plan to ramp up the reopening process. Working together, we can develop a plan to safely reopen our economy and restore the highest possible degree of “normal” to the daily lives of Illinoisans.

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