Residents of Illinois are more than ready to take masks off and return to normal. However, Governor J.B. Pritzker has once again delayed this process by extending Illinois’ disaster declaration by another thirty days on Friday.
Pritzker has now used the 30-day disaster declaration for sixteen consecutive months, essentially rendering these declarations meaningless in Illinois. An emergency, by definition, is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation that requires immediate action. The Governor’s unending, unilateral orders are unacceptable and unhelpful. Rep. Caulkins said, “I join with my Republican colleagues in demanding that Governor Pritzker relinquish his stranglehold on the state of Illinois. We demand that he send issues regarding COVID management to the legislature, and allow school districts to make decisions that best suit the needs of their communities and the capacities of their local medical systems. We have elected representatives for a reason: to give the people a seat at the table. It is time to take back our seat. Pritzker needs to snap out of his power trip and let legislators do their jobs.”
Gov. Pritzker’s latest extension brings concerns that masking and social distancing may be required for schools in the fall. The Governor needs to be reminded that it is not within his power to make that decision. HB2789, which would have given the Illinois Department of Health control over school opening procedures during a health emergency, was defeated when thousands of people filed witness slips opposing taking away the authority from school boards. Over 350 superintendents around the state have asked for clear guidance in order to make informed decisions. Pritzker’s month-at-a-time delays have greatly added to the confusion.
Today, State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) released a statement addressing the extension.
“The ongoing management of COVID-19 is no longer an emergency situation. No other state in the nation is tolerating unending edicts from their Executive Office. The governor is completely ignoring the science and excluding those of us who are supposed to have a part in this decision-making process. I thought the legislature would have been called back to address these uncertainties. I would have lost a big bet on this.”