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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Davis And Brady Call For Phased Downstate Lift Of Pritzker Order

Congressman Rodney Davis at a microphone.
Central Illinois GOP lawmakers are pushing back against Gov. JB Pritzker's shelter-in-place order.

Central Illinois lawmakers have reacted to a lawsuit by a southern Illinois state representative by pointing to what it might influence rather than any legal result it might have.

A judge in southern Illinois has ruled in favor of state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, that Gov. JB Pritzker exceeded his authority in continuing the shelter-in-place decree. The ruling applies only to Bailey.

Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville said Tuesday during a call with selected constituents that the legal pressure put on Pritzker's administration should encourage the governor to further adjust the order.

"I certainly hope it leads to calmer heads prevailing so that the governor and his team might be able to work with Rep. Bailey and others who live in more rural areas to begin talking about a phased-in approach," said Davis.

In his daily briefing Tuesday, Pritzker called the case a political stunt that affects just one person. The Illinois attorney general's office is appealing the decision. Pritzker has not yet signed the new stay-at-home order scheduled to start May 1, but on Tuesday he called the representative and his attorney “reckless.” Pritzker said the lawsuit wrongly argues the governor’s office is using its emergency powers with ill intent.

“That somehow we’re intending to limit people's civil liberties. That’s not the intention here. The intention in fact is to save people's lives,” said Pritzker.

Davis, who represents part of Bloomington-Normal, urged conciliation.

"I think the administration is going to have to hopefully sit down with Republican legislators like Rep. Bailey and the Republicans in the General Assembly," said Davis. "Let's start looking at a regional approach. Let's start looking at success stories on how to fight this." 

Another Republican lawmaker also distanced himself from Bailey's case while holding out the possibility of other court action. State Rep. Dan Brady, a deputy House minority leader from Bloomington, was on the call with Davis. Brady said Bailey did what he thought was right for his constituents.

"There's others of us that represent areas that we feel what we need to do may be a different approach. I hope we don't get into a situation that frustration and tempers are high enough right now, that it becomes a situation of litigation," said Brady.

Brady said the governor's second order will help, but did not include other things Illinois Republicans want.

"We did not get the data and specific modeling that we were asking the governor for and information. We did get the movement on health care systems for surgeries to be reopened. We did get some state parks reopened. But we want to see reopening in a regional manner for our businesses," said Brady.

The new order also would require face coverings in public for anyone older than 2. The rule applies both indoors and outside if people have to be closer than six feet from each other.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.