Illinois’ COVID disaster ends after 1,155 days

Illinois’ COVID disaster ends after 1,155 days

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 42nd and final disaster proclamation has expired after 1,155 days in a state of emergency. Illinois was 1 of only 6 states still under emergency orders because of the pandemic.

After 1,155 days, Illinois’ COVID-19 disaster proclamation expired May 11, ending emergency powers for Gov. J.B. Pritzker in place since the pandemic started.

Illinois was one of only six states still calling COVID-19 a disaster or emergency.

Pritzker had held emergency powers for over 70% of his time in office. He previously announced Illinois’ disaster declaration would end as President Biden ended the federal emergency.

As of January 2023, Illinois was still missing nearly 40,000 jobs compared to January 2020 before the pandemic. While Illinois struggles to recover, the nation is ahead of where it was before the pandemic: April 2023 job numbers were 3.3 million higher than February 2020.

Unlike other states, the Illinois General Assembly took no role in regulating the length of executive emergency powers.

Arizona, Louisiana and Virginia all enacted laws in 2022 increasing legislative oversight of executive powers. Swift action is essential during emergencies, but any disaster lasting for more than three years gives ample chance for lawmakers to debate and decide public policies.

The prolonged use of emergency powers can undermine checks and balances by concentrating too much authority in one person’s hands. State legislatures must ensure the use of executive powers is proportionate and necessary rather than abdicating responsibilities they were elected to shoulder.

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