700 days of rule by executive order under J.B. Pritzker
Today marks day 700 of life in Illinois under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s emergency executive orders. Other governors, including neighboring Iowa, are rolling back executive control, and the majority of Midwest states are no longer under emergency authority.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly 23 months ago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has exercised powers granted to him by state law to enact policies during states of emergency.
Using these powers, Pritzker has issued over 100 executive orders, including limiting the size of public gatherings, suspending enforcement of certain laws and agency operations, closing schools and certain businesses, ordering residents to stay at home, issuing mask mandates, and more recently, requiring vaccinations for most school employees, health care workers, and day care workers, among others.
The governor’s authority to issue the recent series of COVID-19 executive orders comes from Section 7 of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. In the case of a disaster such as a viral epidemic, the governor can issue a proclamation declaring that disaster, allowing him to exercise the emergency powers authorized in the act for a period of up to 30 days.
Meanwhile, neighboring Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she will lift her state’s emergency public health disaster status on Feb. 15, joining the 24 other governors nationwide who have allowed COVID-19 emergency orders to expire as the pandemic wanes.
Reynolds said in a statement that Iowa cannot continue to treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely. She believes Iowans will make the right choices for themselves and their communities.
“After two years, it’s no longer feasible or necessary,” she said. “The flu and other infectious illnesses are part of our everyday lives, and coronavirus can be managed similarly.”
Iowa now joins the majority of Midwest states no longer operating under pandemic emergency rule. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered no end in sight to his statewide pandemic protocols, despite a rapid decline in COVID-19 metrics statewide.
Several states have been moving to limit executive powers in the wake of widespread use of emergency executive orders in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, but the General Assembly has so far shown little appetite for asserting itself over Pritzker’s emergency powers in the Prairie State.