State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) joined House Republicans from Central Illinois on Thursday for an online press conference where they discussed their caucus’ priorities for next week when the legislature reconvenes in Springfield. State Representatives Tim Butler, Mike Murphy, and CD Davidsmeyer also participated in the press conference. Each lawmaker expressed their interest in the legislature addressing changes to the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan, the regions he created for reopening phases, and how a more localized process would better serve all Illinoisans.
“A House Democrat said this week it is unlikely the General Assembly will take up any issues that seek to decrease the Governor’s authority over the handling of the COVID-19 Crisis,” said Bourne. “That’s preposterous. Changing the reopening plan is not a partisan call. Requests for changes to the Governor’s plan are coming from all over the state, from Democrats and Republicans, from small business owners, local leaders, and people from every county. Our requests for local and legislative input is reasonable. The legislature is a coequal branch of government. Taking up a legislative reopening plan should be our priority as we return to session next week.”
The lawmakers said they will adhere to CDC health and safety guidelines and do their part to ensure a safe work environment as legislators resume their duties in Springfield on May 20. “Session will look different, but I am confident we will be able to conduct business safely and responsibly. I’m looking forward to a fully transparent and completely public process. That’s been lacking for the last two months.”
With regard to the four regions the Governor created for the phased reopening of the Illinois economy, Bourne said the regions are excessively large, and prevent areas of the state from moving forward when their COVID numbers meet his benchmarks. “Rather than unilaterally determining the best path forward for all of Illinois, the Governor should be working collaboratively with local officials and legislators,” added Bourne. “In our area, we are being artificially held back due to the arbitrary way the Governor set these districts and parameters,” said Bourne. “We have asked for specifics on the science and epidemiology used for the creation of the regions, and he is not providing the information. Illinois has 11 existing Emergency Medical System regions and he could have used those. Instead, he looked at that map and created four super-regions. We deserve answers to how and why he did that. Additionally, by his own guidelines we should be moved to Phase 3 already rather than waiting until the end of the month.”
Bourne reiterated that the General Assembly has the authority to pass legislation to change portions of the Governor’s plan. “We have the authority and the duty to pass laws and to be a check on the Governor’s executive authority,” said Bourne. “Of course we want to keep our residents safe and that should be a priority of any plan, but our reopening plan must also include a common sense, more targeted approach. That is what I am calling on the legislature to take up next week.”