(The Center Square) – With just about four months shy of two years, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has managed COVID-19 largely through executive order, and the state legislature has been mostly hands off. Some at the statehouse have had enough. Others are fine with it.
Since March 2020, Pritzker has used monthly COVID-19 disaster proclamations and dozens of executive orders with varying degrees of restrictions to order people to stay home, close businesses, wear masks and more. Illinois is one of only eight states, all led by Democratic governors, that require masks to be worn in all indoor public places. California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Washington are the others.
Some Illinois lawmakers have had enough of the mandates issued by a single person – Pritzker.
Since 2020, state Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, has called for the Legislature to provide a check on the governor. He repeated his sentiments on the House floor this past summer.
“It’s something that’s our job to do, it’s something that the people of the state of Illinois expect us to do and we’re not living up to their expectations as their representatives,” Ugaste said.
State Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said he’s comfortable having the governor manage the pandemic through executive order.
“We’re the slow-moving wheels of democracy and the governor’s office in an emergency situation cannot be burdened by that,” Martwick said.
In the summer, Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said the governor is managing the pandemic well.
“Again, I don’t think there’s been any shortage of debate at the local level or at the state level,” Harmon said. “I think that we are all comfortable following the science, and everything does seem to be working, so, [knocks on the podium] knock wood we’re going to keep going in the right direction.”
Ugaste said they have to hold public hearings about the governor’s actions and policies.
“I don’t deny science, I believe in science, and I want to see the science and data we’re being told is being relied upon in order to make these decisions,” Ugaste said.
The governor’s most recent 30-day executive order expires on Jan. 8.