What powers does Pritzker have in an emergency? And what has he ordered so far?

What powers does Pritzker have in an emergency? And what has he ordered so far?

In the case of an epidemic like COVID-19, Illinois governors are given a wide range of emergency powers for a limited period of time.

Since making the official proclamation of the pandemic disaster, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued a series of executive orders in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Illinois.

These executive orders have limited the size of public gatherings, suspended enforcement of certain laws and agency operations, closed schools and nonessential businesses, and ordered residents to stay at home in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and prevent the state’s health care system from being inundated with severely ill patients. The governors of New York, California, and Ohio have issued similar executive orders.

But where do those executive powers come from? And what is or isn’t allowed?

While the federal government is a government of enumerated powers – it can only exercise the powers specifically granted to it by the U.S. Constitution – state governments retain what is known as “police powers” to protect the welfare, safety and health of their residents, in keeping with the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

This system means that states have more flexibility to act without running up against constitutional barriers. It also means states, not the federal government, have the power to tighten or loosen the restrictions ordered by state governors.

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. State and local police can work together to enforce orders given under these emergency powers.

Pritzker declared a statewide disaster on March 9, triggering his emergency powers. He began issuing a series of executive orders a few days later.

Pritzker’s emergency powers include but are not limited to the following, which have been cited in the governor’s orders thus far:

  • To suspend any provisions of regulatory statute that would prevent, hinder or delay necessary action by the state or state agencies.
  • To utilize all available resources of the state government reasonably necessary to cope with the disaster.
  • To redirect state departments or agencies toward disaster response purposes.
  • To control the movement of persons and occupancy of premises within the disaster area.
  • To provide temporary emergency housing.
  • To control, restrict, and regulate the use, sale, or distribution of food, feed, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods, or services.

Pritzker is not the first Illinois governor to invoke the Emergency Management Agency Act. For example, former Gov. George Ryan twice made use of the provisions of Section 9 that allowed him to transfer money to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency after a tornado hit Centralia, Illinois, in 2002.

Here is a timeline of Pritzker’s executive orders so far:

March 12:

March 13:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 2:
    • Cancels all public and private gatherings of 1,000 people or more
    • Closes the Thompson Center to the general public
    • Suspends the two-year continuous service requirement for state employees to receive advancement of sick leave
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 3:
    • Closes all public and private K-12 schools through March 30
    • Suspends definition of student “chronic absences” so that it will not include absences due to COVID-19 closures and absences
    • Suspends the requirement that school districts gain approval for the implementation of e-learning programs

March 15:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 4: Clarifies that the closure of schools does not close the buildings for food provision or noneducational purposes like polling places

March 16:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 5:
    • All bars and restaurants must cease all on-premises consumption through March 30 (later extended)
    • Prohibits all public and private gatherings of 50 people or more
    • Suspends one-week waiting period for unemployment claims
    • Suspends Open Meetings Act requirement that members of a public body must be physically present. Encourages postponing official government business when possible, and when conducting government business can’t be postponed, making video and phone access available to the public

March 17:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 6:
    • Suspends expiration of vehicle registration, driver’s licenses, parking decals, state ID cards and related proceedings
    • Suspends filing requirements for statements of economic interest by certain public officials and state employees under governmental ethics laws

March 19:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 7: Mandates health insurance issuers regulated by the Department of Insurance cover the costs of in-network telehealth services

March 20:

Orders residents to stay at home, barring exceptions such as essential travel for essential work or supplies, exercise and recreation, through April 7.

  • Defines essential businesses, operations and government functions that are exempt from the order
  • Reduces allowable public and private gathering size to no more than 10 people
  • Orders all law enforcement officers to cease enforcing eviction orders for residential premises

March 23:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 9:
    • Suspends requirement that Department of Corrections provide relevant state’s attorney’s office 14 days’ notice before an inmate receives an early release for good conduct and replaces with requirement that notice be provided as far in advance as possible or as quickly as possible
    • Makes several minor revisions, clarifications or additions to previous executive orders

March 24:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 10:
    • Suspends prohibition on hiring nursing assistants who are inactive on the Healthcare Worker Registry if they meet certain criteria
    • Extends the conditional employment period for nurse assistants pending fingerprinting/criminal background check
    • Suspends provision requiring 30-day written notice from the Department of Juvenile Justice before a youth inmates target release date and replaces with requirement that the department notify the state’s attorney’s office of release dates with as much advance notice as possible or as quickly as possible
    • Suspends requirement that Miners’ Examining Board hold an exam once every month

March 26:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 11: Suspends all admissions to the Illinois Department of Corrections from all Illinois county jails, with exceptions at the sole discretion of the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections for limited essential transfers
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 12:
    • Allows two-way audio-video communication to satisfy the requirement that a person must “appear” before a Notary Public
    • Allows any act of witnessing required by Illinois law may be completed remotely by via two-way audio-video communication if the communication meets certain requirements
    • Allows all legal documents to be signed in counterparts by witnesses and signatory absent an express prohibition, and sets out specific procedures when the signing requires a Notary Public

March 27:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 13:
    • Suspends requirements on the administration of assessments, school terms, and the calculation of daily pupil attendance
    • Allows ISBE to implement rules regarding remote learning
    • Permits the use of early childhood block grant funding to provide child care for children of employees performing essential work
    • Any bids received by a school district for construction purposes may be communicated and accepted electronically

March 28:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 14:
    • Suspends provisions of the vehicle code regarding repossession of vehicles
    • Allows training for Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprinting Vendor, and Locksmith Acts to be completed through online instruction
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 15:
    • Further Extends the deadlines for previously extended cannabis-related licenses to April 30
    • Directs Department of Agriculture to accept all craft grower, infuser, and transporter license applications post-marked on or before April 30, 2020 via certified US Mail

April 1:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 17:
    • Directs that elective surgeries be cancelled or postponed
    • Protects health care facilities, professionals, and volunteers from from civil liability for any injury or death alleged, unless caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct

April 6:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 18:
    • Allows a verbal attestation documented by the State constitutes a valid signature for applications for public assistance, rather than requiring an audio recording
    •  Allows unsigned applications for public assistance received by mail to be signed by a verbal attestation by telephone

April 7:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 20:
    • Suspends date requirements for township annual meetings
    • Suspends license renewal limits for funeral director and embalmer interns
    • Suspends supervision requirement for funeral director interns when transporting bodies to a cemetery, crematory, or final place of disposition
    • Permits persons in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who are 18 or older to remain in their placement
    • Suspends the requirement for healthcare workers that designated students, applicants, and employees must have their fingerprints collected electronically and transmitted to the Illinois Department of State Police within 10 working days, provided that they are transmitted within 30 working days of enrollment in a CNA training program or the start of employment

April 9:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 21: Suspends the requirements of the statute authorizing the Secretary of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to increase the number of licensed professionals responding to the disaster to the extent it limits their authority to those persons working under the direction of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health

April 10:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 22:
    • Suspends admissions to forensic treatment programs except at the discretion of the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services for limited essential admissions
    • Suspends provision barring certain employees accused of abuse from contact with patients if:
      • Employees are being investigated for conduct that would not result in their termination or placement on the Health Care Worker Registry, or
      • Employees are the subject of an OIG investigation that is either complete or materially complete

April 14:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 23:
    • Suspends service of a garnishment summons, wage deduction summons, or a citation to discover assets on a consumer debtor or consumer garnishee
    • Does not apply to domestic support obligations or relieve a debtor of any liability

April 16:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 24:
    • Suspends certain hospital licensing requirements
    • Suspends most provisions of the Hospital Report Card Act
    • Suspends deadlines for the Illinois Adverse Health Care Events Reporting Law of 2005
    • Suspends provisions of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act
    • Hospitals licensed by Illinois Department of Public Health or the State of Illinois may establish an Alternate Care Facility to increase regional hospital capacity

April 17:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 25:
    • Suspends medical science institutions from holding indigent cadavers for 30 days after receipt from the State facility, for cadavers testing positive for COVID-19

April 20:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 26:
    • Suspends 5-year limit to the validity of industrial radiography certifications and 2-year limit to industrial radiography trainee certifications
    • Allows extension of Industrial radiography certifications and industrial radiography trainee certifications that have expired

April 23:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 28:
    • Clarifies previous order: All law enforcement officers are instructed to cease enforcing evictions for non-residential premises, unless the tenant poses a threat
    • Permits service of pleadings to be conducted personally, by first-class mail, or by electronic mail

April 24:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 29:
    • Suspends internship requirement for endorsements of professional educator licenses
    • Suspends requirements of certain courses for a high school diploma for certain students who are unable to complete coursework due to COVID-19

April 30:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 30:
    • Modifies Stay At Home Order to allow Illinoisans to leave their home for essential activities, including for health and safety, for necessary supplies and services, for outdoor activity, for certain types of work, to take care of others, and to engage in the free exercise of religion
    • Otherwise requires staying at home or place of residence
    • Individuals are required to wear a face covering in public places when they are unable to maintain a six-foot social distance, such as in stores

May 1:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 33: Suspends certain provisions in the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Act, the Nursing Home Care Act and the Community Care Act
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 34:
    • Allows for marriage ceremonies to be conducted remotely if certain conditions are met
    • Suspends requirements that marriage licenses be submitted to the county clerk within 10 days and that a license become effective one day after issuance
May 13:
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 35:
    • directs all hospitals, health care facilities, health care professionals, and health care volunteers to render assistance in support of the State’s response to the disaster
    • declares that hospitals and healthcare workers of hospitals that continue to cancel or postpone all elective surgeries or procedures, or begin elective surgeries on or after May 11th, in order to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak shall be immune from civil liability injury or death relating to COVID-19

May 29:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 36:
    • Outlines public health requirements for individuals, businesses, retail stores, manufacturers, office buildings, restaurants and bars, gyms, personal service facilities, youth sports, and public amusement
    • Does not limit the free exercise of religion, and indoor services must not exceed more than 10 people
    • Individuals must continue to practice social distancing, maintaining at least a six-foot distance, and wear a face covering in public places or when working
June 4:
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 38: Reopens K-12 schools within specific guidelines:
    • Limiting the number of people in one space to ten or fewer, consistent with public health guidance
    • Ensuring compliance with social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible and maintaining at least six-foot distance from other individuals and discouraging physical contact between individuals
    • Ensuring appropriate hygienic practices, including washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes, discouraging the sharing of personal items, and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces
    • Requiring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, including the use of face coverings by students, staff, and visitors who are over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering. Schools must provide face coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain a minimum six-foot social distance at all times and, to the extent possible, make disposable face coverings available for all students

June 12:

June 26:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 41:
    • Expands activities that were paused or limited
    • Outlines requirements for various businesses and industries
    • Requires Individuals to continue to practice social distancing and wear a face covering in public places or when working
  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 42:
    • Reissues most executive orders, extending a majority of the provisions through July 26, 2020
    • Amends a few previous executive orders

June 29:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 43:
    • Suspends requirement that Illinois Department of Agriculture issue Craft Grower Licenses, Infuser Licenses, and issue Transporting Organization Licenses by July 1, 2020

July 24:

July 27:

  • COVID-19 Executive Order No. 46: IDOC will resume accepting transfers from county jails while taking health and safety into account in determining the process.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!