The governor’s authority to issue emergency orders could be restricted under legislation introduced in Springfield.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowki, R-Rockford, is the lead sponsor of a measure that would amend the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. He said it’s in direct response to the actions taken by Gov. JB Pritzker since the start of the pandemic.
“It’s really unfortunate what was allowed to happen here in Illinois and some other states,” Sosnowski said. “We hope to undo that in the future here and get back to our democratic form of legislating and governing.”
The measure would allow the governor the authority to issue only one proclamation per disaster in any 12-month period. Any further orders for the disaster that triggered the original proclamation would be in force only after a vote receiving two-thirds approval of each chamber of the General Assembly.
“As a co-equal branch of government, my intent is to get back to where we have a level playing field,” Sosnowski said. “Where there’s involvement, it’s a democratic process, and it’s not just the governor, in a nondemocratic fashion, just deciding on how to move forward on things, just because he declares regular ongoing disaster proclamations.”
He said the executive orders never were meant to be ongoing, with little or no input from the Legislature.
“Speaker [Michael] Madigan and the majority party at the time really abdicated all responsibility to the governor,” Sosnowski said. “They didn’t even host committees or review sessions for many, many months.”
Sosnowski said it’s tough for residents to watch as other states roll back mitigations, and the governor keeps coming up with new phases to keep Illinois’ restrictions in place even longer.
“I think there is a lot of underlying frustration,” Sosnowski said. “Members on the other side of the aisle aren’t as vocal, but, on the other hand, I think you see some of that frustration bubbling up with the fact that Speaker Madigan was not elected to be speaker again. They’ve moved in a new direction.”
Sosnowski said he knows he needs support from Democrats to see the measure moved forward but said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should be engaged on the issue.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll see a lot more opposition and concern rising from all members of the legislature,” Sosnowski said. “This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This should just be a legislative and democratic argument on how we should govern the state.”
The bill sits in the House executive committee, awaiting action.