Skip Navigation Links

Update from the Capitol 8/14/2020

Friday, August 14, 2020 - Posted 11:44:24 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

Supreme Court places stay on ruling challenging Governor's stay-at-home order

law.jpgThe Illinois Supreme Court has placed a stay on a ruling from a Clay County judge earlier this summer which would have halted the Governor's authority to continue issuing emergency orders beyond 30 days. The action by the Supreme Court puts the Clay County ruling on hold until the Supreme Court can consider the matter and issue a ruling. The Attorney General filed a motion with the Supreme Court on Monday to ask it to intervene in the matter. The Court ordered the case to be moved to Sangamon County and be combined with five similar lawsuits which are being heard there.

In a separate case, a judge in Will County upheld the Governor's authority to continue issuing such orders. The Illinois Emergency Management Act gives the Governor authority to issue emergency orders for 30 days after a disaster, but does not say what happens after that time period expires. Governor Pritzker has been issuing new disaster declarations every 30 days, essentially re-starting the 30-day clock. As the different court rulings indicate, judges and legal experts are divided on whether or not the Governor can continue to issue such orders. There has not yet been a timeline announced for when the Supreme Court might decide the issue.

I continue to believe that the surest way to settle this matter is for the legislature to re-convene and to pass legislation which removes all doubt by clarifying the law. I am co-sponsoring a bill which would require the Governor to get a vote of the legislature before extending any emergency declaration beyond 30 days.

JCAR upholds Governor's mask order for businesses

The effort to stop Governor Pritzker's emergency rule threatening business owners with a Class A misdemeanor for failing to enforce his mask mandate fell two votes short on Tuesday in the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). All six Republican members of the committee voted against the rule, but the motion needed eight votes.

Groups representing Illinois' small businesses said after the vote that they are considering legal action to stop the rule. A spokesman for one of the groups said that they do not oppose masks, but that they do not believe business owners should be punished because a customer refuses to wear one.

Under the rule, a business would be given two warnings before being fined for a third violation. Fines could range from $75 up to as much as $2500.

First round of BIG grants awarded

This week the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity began issuing the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) to Illinois businesses who suffered financial losses due to the pandemic. I am glad to announce that five businesses in our district were among those selected to be among the first to receive this assistance. The businesses selected included restaurants and a barber shop in four of the five counties of the 106th district. Another round of grants to additional businesses is expected in the future.

IMH_Pharmacy.jpgRibbon cutting for new pharmacy at Iroquois Memorial Hospital

Congratulations to the Iroquois Memorial Hospital on their IMH Pharmacy's ribbon cutting ceremony held earlier this week. The brand new outpatient pharmacy has opened on the ground floor of the hospital, making affordable prescription medications and over-the-counter products available to everyone in the community. Special thanks to hospital CEO Don Williams and Mike Sandsmark, Director of IMH Pharmacy and their team. Thanks also to my legislative aide Angel Crawford for representing our office.

Iroquois_RX_Event.pngPrescription drug take-back event a big success

My thanks to Clint Perzee of the Iroquois County Sheriff's Department for helping us host a prescription drug take-back event in Watseka on Wednesday. The event was a big success, as it gave local residents the chance to safely dispose of old or expired prescription medications. Properly disposing of old medications keeps them from falling into the wrong hands or polluting the environment. Thank you also to everyone who stopped by to participate.

Bennett_Discussion_8-20-20-01.jpgPlease join us for a discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses

Join Amanda Hibbs, Executive Director of the Watseka Chamber of Commerce and Cat Coppinger, Executive Director of the Pontiac Chamber of Commerce and me for Live with State Rep. Tom Bennett next Thursday, August 20, at 5:00 pm for an important discussion on the impact that COVID-19 has had on local businesses.

Visit my Facebook page for details.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $5,459,127,411 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.6 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

More news from around the state

The latest news from the Department of Public Health

Illinois State University confirms case of COVID-19 tied to residence hall

Continuing COVID-19 uncertainties push Big Ten to postpone fall sports

University of Illinois working to expand COVID-19 saliva testing nationally

Pandemic aid to start flowing to local governments in Illinois

Bleaker than ever picture for Illinois restaurants

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: or my website at 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

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).