* Letter to the governor from House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…
August 26, 2021
Governor J.B. Pritzker 207 State House
Springfield, II 62706
When your experts told you to lift your mask mandate back in May of this year, I too was ready for the pandemic to be over. When you started running election commercials declaring ‘mission accomplished’, I too was hopeful that the worst was behind us. I thought of all the residents of our state and country who lost their lives during the last year and a half, especially our heroes in the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, and prayed for them and their loved ones.
But when your commercial buy changed, now touting your words from over a year ago that you ‘would put the full weight of the state behind the pandemic response’, I remembered the 18 months of your go-it-alone attitude. This past year, you ran the length of the field with mandates and executive orders without the General Assembly.
That is why your phone call last night asking for suggestions on how to get this new wave of the pandemic under control was so unexpected. I would apologize for thinking you were being insincere with that call asking my advice, but immediately after hanging up, I received a breaking news update from the Chicago Sun-Times that you had, once again, laid out your plan without input.
You are willing to negotiate with your biggest supporters, the public sector unions, on the pandemic response, but still will not listen to the General Assembly or the residents of Illinois most impacted by your actions. I will reiterate my plea on our call yesterday to please make your experts available to the General Assembly so that we can examine their data and plans, review the results of your many previous mandates and together plot a course of action that will work. You have the authority to call for a Special Session of both Chambers to address this very critical issue, and I am imploring you to do so immediately .
Additionally, instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on secret lotteries and giveaways, direct that money to buying KN95 masks for children in schools that still cannot receive the vaccine. That would lift a financial burden on families while also providing real, tangible results.
House Republican leader
P.S. Your administration is still stalling our requests to receive documents about your Administration’s failures at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. The sooner those documents are turned over, the General Assembly can begin a thorough review of the repeated shortcomings that led to the deaths of 36 veterans and make the necessary adjustments to the state’s laws to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
Notice that he didn’t take a side on the actual mandates.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Gov. Pritzker was asked about this during today’s press conference…
I have always been available to the >eader for any calls that he wants to make with ideas, and to any other Republican legislator, Democratic legislator. And when the legislature talks to me I listen and I have asked for ideas from both sides of the aisle. People, as you recall, early on in COVID-19 in this pandemic, I worked with a Republican legislator to ultimately put in place a mask mandate for the state back in May. I continue to listen to try to adjust things and make them work for all parts of our state. […]
I’m always open to hearing formal input from the legislature and I think that he should go do whatever it is that he needs to do. They’re a co-equal branch of government, they should, what Republicans can call hearings and if they don’t, you know, if they want to invite Democrats to it they should and can if they don’t want to, they can still hold hearings. I’m sure you all will cover them. And, you know get ideas. I have asked all along here for any new ideas that anybody has about how to bring down the number of hospitalizations, how to bring down the spread of COVID, and I’ve listened when people have offered up those ideas.
Please pardon all transcription errors. Also, the GOP can’t call a special session.
…Adding… Press release…
Paul Schimpf, Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois, issued the following statement in response to Pritzker’s mask mandate issued today:
“JB Pritzker has lost all moral authority to lead on pandemic response by failing to follow the rules he set for others. If Democrats believe our current situation is so dire to require a mask mandate, they should take up the issue during their legislative session that is scheduled for August 31st. Absent legislative action, these executive edicts are yet another divisive act by a failed governor who believes he wields unlimited power.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Letter from the governor…
I appreciate that as the leader of Illinois House Republicans, you support the real and tangible results of students wearing masks in schools. As you know, we have offered surgical masks to schools throughout the state over the course of the pandemic. I appreciate your request to additionally furnish KN95 masks to schools; my administration will immediately reach out to superintendents to inform them that KN95 masks are available at their request through our normal PPE distribution channels.
I will continue to do everything within my authority as governor to keep the people of our state safe, and as I have said many times, in addition to those necessary steps that doctors have recommended, I welcome any further ideas from you or members of your caucus.
I encourage you and members of your caucus to continue to bring ideas forward, and to propose legislation that would help save lives, end this pandemic and pass in the General Assembly.
…Adding… Gary Rabine…
Gary Rabine, candidate for Governor is issuing the following statement on the Governor’s latest act of authoritarianism in his statewide order demanding all employees at schools to get vaccinated and a new statewide indoor mask mandate.
“It is unconscionable that the Governor would mandate all school employees to be vaccinated. It is not the government’s role to make healthcare decisions for its citizens. This is a dictator-like government overreach, and it is one we, as a society, must stand up to adamantly oppose. School employees should not, as a condition of employment, be forced to be vaccinated. They as individuals should be free to make healthcare decisions for themselves.
Governor Pritzker, who comes from royalty-like wealth, seems to think the way to solve this problem is to play Chief Health Expert and King. We are not going to stop COVID-19 with authoritarian rules. People need to be free to make their own healthcare decisions. If you want to wear a mask – wear a mask. But forcing people to comply with these arbitrary rules is not accomplishing anything but stoking fear, anger and resentment.”
Individuals should be free to make healthcare decisions for themselves, but this is not about them. It’s about everyone around them, and those around them, and those around them, and…