Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Governor Pritzker has issued 72 executive orders governing every aspect of the state’s response, and the state legislature has had zero public hearings on the state’s response efforts. State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is continuing to call on Governor Pritzker to allow for public hearings on the state’s COVID-19 efforts.
“The constitution relies on a system of checks and balances designed to limit the authority of any one person,” said Barickman. “Every day we hear issues from our constituents, from unemployment problems to mental health concerns to the tragic situation at assisted living facilities. However, it's the Governor who isn't listening.”
Barickman noted that Governor Pritzker has so far issued 72 executive orders in 9 months on COVID-19 alone, compared to 13 in all 12 months of 2019. The entire state of Illinois is currently under increased mitigation measures, by the Governor’s unilateral order, closing restaurants and shutting down businesses.
People across Illinois struggle to keep their businesses afloat or food on their tables, while dealing with continuing issues such as unemployment fraud (Barickman himself was recently the victim of unemployment fraud through a false claim that he never filed), meanwhile their lawmakers have not been allowed to take a single vote on any aspect of the state’s COVID-19 response and reopening plan.
Barickman, along with restaurant owners from his district, held a press conference in Bloomington-Normal on December 15th to highlight the issues that the people and the businesses in the 53rd Senate District are facing, and to push for legislative input on the Governor’s executive orders.
“We want our voices to be heard. We want our elected officials, like Senator Barickman, to be able to get back to doing what they were elected to do. To be our voice in public hearings on what matters most and impacts all of us. To be a part of the solution to the problems we face as a community,” said Joe Wargo, owner of Joe’s Station House Pizza and Joe’s Pub.
“They need to include the legislators to give some input, to help with the mandates, and to consider the businesses and what’s going to come to them without revenue to pay their bills,” said Bob Dobski, owner of Rob Dob’s Restaurant in Bloomington.
Not only have there been no legislative hearings on COVID-19 efforts, but the annual fall veto session was cancelled as well. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state legislature has met for only four days in late May.
“Democracy does not allow one person to have unlimited authority, we need our co-equal branches of government working together on this,” said Barickman. “We need public hearings so we can learn more about the decisions that are being made and so that we make sure that the voices of our constituents are being heard.”