As mentioned at a news conference on May 15, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced a bill to change how corporations are punished for violations of residence and house rules. He made the changes without consulting the legislative branch of government, and now he faces criminal charges. In addition to the new law, he also changed Illinois Department of Health rules so that business owners can be prosecuted if they violate his closing orders.
The rules went into effect immediately on Friday, and business owners now face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine for each violation. Members of the Pritzker administration say the amendment is a new law enforcement tool that does not require companies to lose their licenses or close down altogether, according to WTTW. He defended his one-sided move, arguing that prosecutors said they could only prosecute violent offenders if the state had such a punishment.
But many took a different view, with Pritzker writing the law himself and his lawyer Ann Spillane calling the rules a “less dramatic alternative.” She agreed that it was not meant to punish people, but as a way to enforce the closure of non-vital stores, and that enforcement would come first after communicating with the owners. No one was arrested or handcuffed, so its rules made it easier to prosecute violations, she said.
She said the order was a legal overreach and went beyond the governor’s authority, but agreed with those who said it was a misstep that showed how little Pritzker cares about small business owners who provide the majority of the state’s jobs.
This latest unilateral decision by the governor is yet another reason why the executive branch should work with the legislature to respond and resolve the current health pandemic. The control mechanisms provided are crucial for the state, and the control mechanism provided is crucial for our state.
State legislators will have the opportunity to review the rule change, and if eight members do not vote, the rules will not apply. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Association of Business and Industry (IABI) may oppose the rule to prevent it from continuing. These entrepreneurs are just trying to survive and save their lives and their jobs, many of which are their life’s work, “Wehrli said.
Pritzker’s order comes at a time when entrepreneurs across the state have begun resisting and trying to stay afloat after weeks of closures.
In Madison County, the health board voted to allow businesses to reopen under strict social restrictions. Pritzker responded on May 13 by promising to use state police and local law enforcement against companies that violate his order. He said the state would also withhold aid from local governments that refuse to enforce the stay-at-home policy. He had previously hoped that individuals would do so out of concern for public health, but stressed that it was up to local authorities to enforce the orders.
Sheriffs in the state’s counties have already said they will not take legal action against lawbreakers. Gyms and restaurants will be allowed to open in Phase 4, though the timing is unclear, according to Pritzker.
A recent poll found that 75% of citizens believe Pritzker should allow small retailers to reopen immediately because of social policies. Wholesale stores will be allowed to continue to operate and sell basic items in Phase 3, giving them an advantage over beleaguered small businesses that have been trying to survive without income for nearly two months. Small business owners argue they can better protect their customers from coronavirus, according to the Chicago Tribune. He said he was not consulted before drafting his plan, but a recent study by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Public Policy Research says he did.
Adam White, who runs an RC Outfitters store in Peoria, said the governor’s shelter-in-place order was “very discriminatory. Me ‘. I don’t know why Bass Pro Shop, Target and others can sell shoes, socks and clothes, but somehow they are indispensable.
It certainly does not sound like a way to promote the long-term economic health of the state. So far, Pritzker’s only answer to that question has been to threaten small businesses, which make up more than one-third of Illinois “entrepreneurs, according to the US Chamber of Commerce. It is a difference whether one is open or not, and a big difference whether one is open or not.