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Local News

Batinick joins call for General Assembly to meet amid pandemic

He said job of legislators is 'clearly essential'

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, speaks to the Herald-News on Friday, April 5, 2019, in Plainfield, Ill.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, speaks to the Herald-News on Friday, April 5, 2019, in Plainfield, Ill.

State Rep. Mark Batinick criticized state elected officials for not calling General Assembly members back to Springfield to conduct legislative business amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Batinick, R-Plainfield, said in an interview with The Herald-News that Gov. JB Pritzker should not be the only one making decisions for the state to combat the crisis. The representative has joined other elected officials in arguing that Pritzker's executive orders and plans to reopen the state's economy go too far and don't take enough of a regional approach.

"We need to be down in Springfield," Batinick said. "The idea that one person has the capacity to take in all the data and make decisions ... I think is the wrong way to go."

Batinick said he thought General Assembly members hadn't been called back to Springfield because it was "easier" for Pritzker "to run things by executive order." He added that he thought it was also easier for House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Don Harmon, both Democrats, to let Pritzker act "because then the decisions are on him and it's not their situation."

Batinick is not alone in calling for state legislators to return to Springfield.

Other Republicans, such as State Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, have requested that Pritzker call a special session of the Legislature so members could also work on a plan to combat the pandemic and reopen the state's economy. They also criticized the governor for not truly working with them in a bipartisan manner on solutions.

Batinick said he understood that some may have legitimate concerns about dozens of lawmakers returning to the capitol. He said members can take precautions, such as doing some work over videoconferencing before votes to minimize face-to-face interactions.

"I have a hard time sending essential workers to work as cashiers at Walmart, but somehow we're not supposed to be doing our jobs," he said. "That is clearly essential. We are making decisions that are affecting millions of lives."

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