First, I want to thank the people of the 64th District for their continued support. It is a distinct honor and privilege to serve as your legislative voice and I’m looking forward to returning to Springfield for another term. Since Election Day, I have traveled to every community in the District and have talked to many constituents who have seen me out and about. I have also received a great deal of email and phone calls from people, and most are sharing the same concerns: how will restaurants and bars survive these latest COVID-19 resurgence mitigations and what are you doing as our Representative to demand a different course of action.
It’s a difficult situation to be sure. While mindful that we are in the midst of a global health pandemic, I continue to question the Governor’s logic and mitigation strategies. I question the rationale behand targeting an entire industry when we have not seen contact tracing data that tells us that restaurants are settings where the virus is being widely spread. There is a difference between standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers in a crowded bar and sitting at a table at a restaurant for a meal. Yet restaurants and bars are grouped together for mitigations. Contact tracing data I have been able to view by a few counties show that cases traced to restaurants represent a very small percentage of cases. This data also tells us that health care and adult living settings where people go to receive care are by far the locations where most cases are occurring, followed by factory/manufacturing settings. Yet none of the mitigations are addressing these spots. In short, his rationale to target indoor dining and bar service does not add up. We all deserve answers.
It’s important for people know that there are three elected officials in Illinois that can reconvene the legislature: Governor Pritzker, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, and Senate President Don Harmon. Rank and file members of the House and Senate, Republican and Democrat, do not have the authority to call a special session. A great deal of my frustration with the COVID-19 response is due to this one undeniable truth: None of the 3 who has the power to engage the legislature in COVID-19 decisions is willing to exercise that authority. Lawsuits continue to be filed, and eventually they are tossed out by judges who tell complainants they can try again.
But make no mistake. Since the beginning of the pandemic and regularly throughout, I have repeatedly asked the Governor to include the legislature in his decision-making process. After all, we each represent roughly 108,000 Illinoisans, and those voices deserve to be heard! In addition to these calls for the Governor to allow legislators to help make these critical decisions, I have also implored the Governor to share detailed statewide contact tracing data so we know unequivocally that we are targeting mitigations in the right place. But as is the case with calls to include the legislature, requests for full transparency and the release of contact tracing data have fallen on deaf ears. The Governor continues to go it alone and continues to shut out the legislature, which is supposed to be a co-equal branch of government.
Pressure is mounting as we continue to see business owners defying the Governor’s orders. While I do not condone it, how can we fault these folks for taking desperate steps to do whatever is necessary to stay afloat and to meet payroll for our friends and neighbors who work at these places of business? The Governor is asking all of us to be “All In” with the response, yet he shuts out lawmakers and rejects valid concerns over his response decisions.
Please know that I will continue to fight for the businesses and workers in the 64th District and across Illinois, because I truly believe there is a balance that can be found that protects health and safety while keeping our businesses open.