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Illinois House Republican Sues Pritzker Over Emergency Powers

via Blueroomstream.com
Rep. Darren Bailey, speaking to reporters about a lawsuit filed in Clay County circuit court, during a Zoom press conference on April 24

An Illinois Republican is suing Governor J.B. Pritzker over restrictions he’s put in place to combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

State Rep. Darren Bailey (Xenia) alleges the governor does not have the power to keep the state under a stay-at-home order and disaster proclamation, as he moved to do this week.

Pritzker first declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic on March 9th. According to Bailey’s lawsuit, state law gives the governor the power to close schools and compel residents to stay home for just 30 days after.

“We’re living under some interesting times — I understand that,” Bailey said during a press conference over Zoom. “Our district has done an amazing job of social distancing and living under these guidelines. However, things are different here and I’ve tried to express that.”

Bailey’s lawsuit also argues the state legislature must approve further action before Pritzker can legally extend emergency powers, though that’s unclear. The Xenia lawmaker explained he and attorney Thomas DeVore are concerned about the separation of the state’s executive and legislative powers.

“Are our liberties being threatened? When this happens, it’s one event at a time that slowly strips this away,” Bailey said.

Pritzker downplayed the lawsuit during a Friday press briefing, explaining the federal government has declared a national emergency that supersedes the state’s authority. State law allows the governor to “cooperate with the federal government and with other states in all matters pertaining to emergency management.”

“I think that a lawsuit about whether or not this is an emergency is a political maneuver, at a time when we probably shouldn’t be dealing with politics but rather simply addressing the emergency,” Pritzker said.

Rep. Bailey wants a circuit court judge in Clay County to award him damages and declare the governor’s latest stay at home order void.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.
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