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Lawmakers set to return to Springfield, debate expected on re-opening, aid

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — For 59 days silence filled the corridors of the state capital, but for local lawmakers work's hardly been on pause. On Wednesday, they plan to address a number of issues tied to COVID-19.

"There's some talk about some mortgage relief or rental relief," Republican Sen. Dave Syverson explains.

He says some plans would involve delaying payments to banks or landlords to the end, which he says fixes short-term issues, but can create problems for people down the road.

"I think a plan is the works to distribute state money to communities in this region to help them out with their COVID expenses," Democratic Sen. Steve Stadelman adds.

And Republican State Representative Joe Sosnowksi says the first order of business has to be geared towards the "tremendous problems facing our small businesses and working families."

These lawmakers say they are heading back to Springfield to iron out the details for a recovery plan. Over the course of the last two months, each tells 13 WREX they've been coming up with ideas to aid people in the Rockford-region.

"The best aid package would be to allow all businesses to safely reopen," Rep. Sosnowski says.

But Rockford and Winnebago County have already decided it's safe to re-open restaurants, churches and day cares by June 1. By then, the Governor's executive order will be over. However, the question is, could the general assembly extend that order again, thereby overriding the county's plan.

Some lawmakers say no.

"No, there will be no vote as far as I can tell on the executive order or any of these health plans that other municipalities and counties are considering as well," Sen. Stadelman says.

Rep. Sosnowski says legislators "have not been given any explanation, any details, or any draft legislation that the Governor has suggested."

But Sen. Syverson, who has nearly 30 years of experience in the Illinois Senate, says he believe it is possible Gov. J.B. Pritzker could try to get the legislature to place more restrictions on businesses.

"That could be something the Governor is going to continue to push for — is to be giving him more authority or to extend his authority," Sen. Syverson explains.

But for now, both local and state leaders will have to wait and see what unfolds in Springfield to determine what happens next in Winnebago County and across the state.

There's also a push to pull the Governor's progressive income tax, which was a cornerstone of his gubernatorial campaign, off the November ballot. The measure has been co-sponsored by Rep. Sosnowski, who told us he hopes to have a vote to pull it off the ballot during this session, or delay it to future years.

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Richard Bodee

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