Proposed rule would make opening early a Class A misdemeanor
I was shocked to learn that the Governor had introduced a rule late on Friday which would criminally charge businesses who open their doors before the stay-at-home order is lifted. This was done with no notice to the public, and the Governor neglected to mention it at his Friday afternoon news briefing.
As the shutdown has dragged on, I have urged the Governor to start lifting parts of the stay-at-home order in those areas which already meet the Department of Public Health’s standards for safely moving to the next phase of re-opening. Instead, the Governor has chosen to go full speed in the opposite direction. Criminally charging those who are the backbone of our economy for simply trying to save their livelihoods, especially at a time when the state is releasing violent offenders from prison early, is wrong and a serious overreach.
The proposal is now in the hands of the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules, which can either accept or reject it when the commission meets on Wednesday. One of the Republican members of the commission has already vowed to make a motion to suspend the rule.
This proposed rule should be withdrawn at once, and this pattern of government by executive order should end immediately.
Data breach exposed information of some PUA applicants
Late last week my fellow Representative, Terri Bryant, received a panicked phone call from a constituent informing her that while attempting to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) she stumbled across a spreadsheet with the names and sensitive personal information of thousands of applicants.
Rep. Bryant immediately notified the Governor’s office and IDES and was advised that they are aware and are working on the problem. The agency has since announced that the problem has been corrected. More than 50,000 Illinoisans have filed claims through the IDES website since it launched last week.
Odell business prioritizing safety
Last week I heard from Gera Diemer, who owns GD’s Saloon in Odell, about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the stay-at-home order on her business. Gera has worked in the restaurant business for more than 40 years, but she did not open GD’s until early this year. She says business was great until the shutdown. At first she didn’t mind, because of concern for a high-risk family member, but as bills have piled up she has sought to find a way to get the doors back open while prioritizing safety.
“I would start with a soft opening, allowing 25% capacity. I’m able to remove tables and allow six-foot distancing. My employees will have masks and gloves available to them,” she wrote. “We will work with the local health department to determine what we will need to do to reopen.”
Safety is the key, and many of our local small business owners are ready to do what they have to do in order to open their doors and keep their customers and employees safe as soon as state government allows them to do so. As I have said before, we need to get moving on lifting parts of the stay-at-home order to safely re-open the state.
More news from around the state
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For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).