Illinois Republicans call for legislature to return amid rising COVID-19 cases, new restrictions

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. As pandemic politics reach a new degree of difficulty, Illinois Republicans are putting pressure on Governor JB Pritzker to resume a special legislative session.

For months, Illinois Republicans in the state have criticized Pritzker and questioned his authority on issuing emergency restrictions and a stay-at-home order.

Illinois State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield) iterated the desire to return to Springfield.

“My colleagues and I are again calling for the governor to send us back to special legislative session. We need this. The public needs this and deserves this. We need hearings. We need audits. And we need formal legislative input,” Bourne said.

Many of the legislators have raised concerns over the economic impact of the restrictions, particularly on small businesses.

“We cannot continue to penalize our small businesses at the expense of these big box stores. He needs to seriously consider giving the same opportunities to small downtown stores, small stores that sell shoes and drugs,” Illinois State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) said.

Pritzker’s authority to issue mitigation measures has been challenged in court, but judges have confirmed the governor’s power under the law thus far.

Last week, an appellate court upheld the governor’s power to issue restrictions in a case involving a Geneva steakhouse’s request to continue indoor dining.

“The Act plainly authorizes the governor to issue successive disaster proclamations stemming from one ongoing disaster,” the court’s ruling said.

Avery Bourne believes the General Assembly should pass a law allowing for more legislative input.

“We have a bill that says if the governor issues one, then he would have to come back to the legislature.”

Pritzker said Republicans have had input in his decisions.

“I have had discussion after discussion after discussion with members of the Republican caucuses,” Pritzker said.

Despite the pushback Pritzker has received for mitigations, there are those that want the governor to do more.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers is urging Pritzker to order all Illinois schools to move to 100 percent remote learning.

“We believe that the best course of action is for all schools to be remote now through probably the beginning of the new year,” IFT President Dan Montgomery said.

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