Barickman calls for public hearings on re-opening plan

Noting the importance of cooperation between the co-equal executive and legislative branches of government, along with the potential impact of any plan to re-open Illinois, State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is calling for public hearings on Governor JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order have had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of people’s lives, and any plan to re-open will have huge consequences,” said Barickman. “This is why it is so important that, much like the state’s budget, the legislative and executive branches of government work together to put forward the best possible plan to re-open our state and find a ‘new normal’ for its citizens.”

Senator Barickman has formally sent a letter to both Governor J. B. Pritzker and Senate President Don Harmon, requesting public hearings on the “Restore Illinois” plan. The Senator noted the importance of co-equal branches of government working together on such a consequential plan. 

He also pointed to numerous concerns that lawmakers, along with residents of Illinois, have expressed with both the stay-at-home order and the Governor’s unilateral plan for re-opening. Some of the concerns include reports that during the stay-at-home order, Illinois has seen significant increases in domestic violence, abuse of children and the mentally ill, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. Additionally, many share concerns that lost classroom time has likely taken a toll on a generation of students that it could take years to fully quantify. 

In addition, several aspects of the re-opening plan have raised concerns, including the fact that, despite the Governor’s continued focus on the need for 14-day declines in COVID-19 infections, his plan requires declines lasting 28 days. Federal guidance, along with re-opening plans in many other states (including COVID-19 hotbeds such as New York), also focus on 14-day declines. Public hearings could shed better light on what other details the proposal requires before moving from one phase to the next.

“It is time for the legislature to engage in a public discussion with the governor about how best to move forward,” said Barickman. “The people of Illinois deserve to have input in this process through their duly elected legislators.”

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