Ugaste Legislation Requires Legislative Input in Emergency Response

GENEVA—Due to Governor Pritzker’s continued unilateral response to the state’s coronavirus pandemic, State Representative Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) filed legislation to require legislative approval on emergency declarations.

The legislation, HB5790, provides that if the Governor issues a disaster proclamation, he may extend the proclamation or make an additional proclamation regarding the same disaster, but it must be approved within 5 days by three of four legislative leaders or by a joint resolution in the General Assembly in order to be effective.

Rep. Ugaste has been a strong advocate for the involvement of the General Assembly throughout this pandemic, especially since the law requires it.  Under Illinois law, the Illinois Emergency Management Act, emergency powers granted to the Governor only last 30 days.  However, the Governor’s office has interpreted the statute differently and the courts have yet to be able to resolve the dispute.  This legislation would remove any dispute over what the legislature intended. 

“The Governor has decided the pandemic has become a long-term emergency for Illinois, and that he alone knows the best way to address the situation,” said Ugaste. “We have seen Governor Pritkzer over- extend his authority to spearhead responses without consulting the General Assembly.  By filing this legislation, we are putting a specific protocol in place to ensure that lawmakers have a voice in the state’s emergency response, and that future lawmakers will never again be sidelined by this or any other  Governor.  Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House ended the Special Session and canceled the last seven days of regular session.  Therefore, unless the Governor is willing to bring us back to Special Session to address the issue, and all indications are he will not, the earliest this bill could be scheduled for a hearing in committee is November 17.”

So far, the Governor has issued three disaster proclamations for COVID—19 without input from the General Assembly. Rep. Ugaste has pushed for lawmakers to be in Springfield and allowed to debate and vote on the best plan to reopen Illinois and restore the economy.