(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his administration is continuing to look for ways to enforce his executive orders as he tours COIVD-19 hot spots in Illinois to encourage local officials to adopt their own ordinances.
At his stop Monday in Springfield to promote a $5 million ad campaign promoting universal face coverings as a public health issue, Pritzker said he’s considering what rules his administration could put in place to have state penalties for violations of his executive orders.
Pritzker said he tried to work with the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on state penalties for businesses that don’t follow his orders.
“You know that I went to the legislature and I asked JCAR to consider a rule that would impose fines when people are not requiring masks to be worn, they didn’t want to do that,” Pritzker said. “They wanted to consider legislation and then didn’t bring up that legislation.”
Pritzker repealed the rule he filed to level criminal penalties against businesses that didn’t comply with his mandates just before JCAR met in late May. A separate rule he filed about workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19 claims was challenged in the courts and was then repealed.
“I would say it’s the legislature, it’s true, that hasn’t been willing to move forward on a mask mandate, but I have one in place for the state and cities and counties have been very good for the most part suggesting to people that this is enforceable,” Pritzker said.
In Springfield, the city’s police and fire department are sending out enforcement officers. Sangamon County officials are also handing out fines to businesses for not complying with face mask and social distancing orders. Other local governments across the state have adopted similar ordinances.
State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, said he supports wearing a face covering to get the economy back open and appeared with the governor in Springfield on Monday. Murphy said it’s time for the legislature to act.
“If we would get there and debate these issues, more facts would come out and there’d be more buy-in by the people,” Murphy told WMAY radio. “Right now we’re getting it just from the executive branch and there’s a lot of distrust or skepticism by people in regards to having one branch of government running the government.”
Murphy said he understands the health concerns of the General Assembly meeting, but members showed it can be done safely after meeting in late May. No outbreaks were reported after that truncated four-day session.
To socially distance themselves, the Illinois House took over the Bank of Springfield Center in the capital city. The final invoice for that totaled $143,857. That included the facility rental, catering parking and rental of audio and video equipment along with other costs.
A special session would come with additional taxpayer costs for individual lawmaker travel, lodging and meals, plus any additional staffing needs such as doormen.
Either the governor, the Senate President or the Speaker of the House can call for a special session. So far, there has been no indication that is on the horizon.