Governor J.B. Pritzker quietly submitted a new emergency rule on Friday afternoon that would allow for law enforcement to charge business owners who defy his stay-in-place order. The class A misdemeanor charge is punishable by a fine of between $75 and $2,500 and up to one year in jail.
Members of Pritzker’s cabinet described the new rule as a “tool” that law enforcement can use to keep businesses closed. The Governor has also threatened to revoke state licenses and permits for businesses that reopen against his executive order.
Critics of Governor Pritzker describe this new emergency rule as excessive and broad.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said “these rules are an overreach and beyond the scope of the Governor’s authority. It will be a dark day in Illinois when we charge small businesses with a jailable crime for salvaging their livelihoods.”
This new rule will require county state’s attorneys to prosecute the offenders. Several county state’s attorneys in Illinois have express concerns that the executive order goes too far and law enforcement officials should avoid using the criminal justice system to enforce the order.
Legislators who serve on the rules oversight committee will have an opportunity to review this new emergency rule on Wednesday. Members of the committee can reject the change. However, eight of the twelve members of the committee will have to vote to reject it. Five of the members are Republican. The other seven are Democrats. If the rule is not rejected, it will remain in place for 150 days.