PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Illinois general assembly will return to session next week for the first time since March 5.
The House and Senate will hold session on May 20-22 after reaching agreements on safety protocols that include COVID-19 testing and meeting in different buildings.
Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) has called for Illinois lawmakers to return to session for weeks and believes legislators should have been involved in the state’s pandemic response.
“I am happy that we are going back to doing the job that we were elected to do,” said Spain. “When we are here trying to do as much as we can to help our constituents […] we really need to have the legislators involved in making decisions.”
Governor J.B. Pritzker’s executive order considers Illinois lawmakers as essential workers, but House and Senate leadership suspended session amid the pandemic, citing safety concerns. The Governor has repeatedly said he would leave the decision to the legislators.
Spain, who said he tested for COVID-19 on Thursday, said he is okay with the safety precautions, but thinks the same measures could have been taken two months ago. Spain claims legislators could have helped to prevent “mistakes” by the governor, which the state representative attributes to the need to act fast.
“I don’t think they were intentional,” said Spain. “I think they were oversight mistakes made as important decisions had to be made quickly. If we had more involvement from legislators, we could have made sure certain businesses were not shut down in a way that doesn’t make sense.”
Spain cites the closure of certain small businesses that sell similar products as big box stores deemed essential.
Watch Spain’s full interview including his thoughts on priorities in the upcoming session, the need to pass a budget before the end of the month, and the governor’s warning that businesses risk losing state-issued licenses by opening without state permission.