SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker agreed Wednesday to repeal his emergency rule that would make it a misdemeanor if people or businesses violated the stay at home executive order, according to Rep. Tom Demmer.
Rep. Demmer (R-Dixon) said the reason for the repeal was due to significant opposition from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and the public.
Gov. Pritzker's office filed the rule last week, which was meant to provide an additional enforcement tool for high-risk businesses like bars, restaurants, salons and gyms that refuse to comply with the executive order.
The rule meant any violators are subject to punishment under a current IDPH Act, that lists the offense as a Class A misdemeanor. That is the most serious misdemeanor, which could result in 364 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Illinois Republicans aimed to have the rule suspended as many business owners expressed their concerns over the rule.
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) says his office received 7,000 emails and more than 1,000 voicemails over a 48-hour period, calling for the committee to suspend this rule.
"Filing these emergency rules to extend criminal penalties to businesses and individuals all over Illinois, to me, is an abuse of emergency rule-making," Wheeler said. "We should not punish those who are the backbone of our state's economy just for trying to survive."
Rockford lawmaker Dave Syverson (R) also weighed in on the decision, saying:
"I am pleased that the Governor has decided to withdraw his emergency rules which would have negatively impacted our business community and punished hardworking Illinoisans. The idea of criminally charging small business owners for trying to stay open to support their families was something the Senate Republicans strongly opposed. This was a big win on our first day back in Springfield. I am glad that, with the help of a large public outcry, we were able to defeat this rule change."
The Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules was to meet on Wednesday to decide the fate of the emergency rule.