Mazzochi Rebukes Governor’s Latest Power Grab, Files Legislation to Protect Small Businesses

State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) is challenging Governor Pritzker’s latest executive overreach. Once again circumventing the legislative process, the Governor’s most recent regulatory plan seeks to punish small business owners and their employees, even if they take appropriate COVID precautions, because they refuse to stay closed.

Rep. Mazzochi explained, “If the Governor wants to change the law, there is a process for that: go to the General Assembly and ultimately we, the people.”

The Gubernatorial uproar resulted from his office’s last-minute submission of new rules to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules late Friday. These new regulatory rules criminalize certain classes of small business owners who try to keep their doors open. Defying the Governor’s orders would punish people with a Class A misdemeanor, one step below a felony, which carries up to a $2500 fine and up to a year in prison. The rule also seeks to improperly entice local law enforcement to enforce the order. 

While the Governor claimed Illinois law permits his regulation, Mazzochi countered that his regulations eviscerate people’s existing due process protections. The Illinois Department of Public Health is prohibited from isolating a person or closing a business to the public without having either the affected person’s express consent or a court order, which can only issue if “no less restrictive alternative exists” to protect public health. The Illinois Emergency Management Act also prohibits the Governor from using any powers granted under that act to affect the responsibilities of local government’s police forces. “Who voted to weaponize business licenses and utility hookups? Not us.  Who voted to give the Governor power over county sheriffs through funding games? Not us,” Mazzochi said.

“The Governor keeps concocting all these ways to deny people their rights with no due process while avoiding legislative accountability,” Rep. Mazzochi continued. “He needs to stop with the unilateral threats and trying to use state Agencies as his heavyweights.” In a separate statement, DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick recognized local residents’ safety efforts, and that he won’t “victimize” people “trying to put food on their children’s table.”

While the Governor’s latest move will lead to yet another court challenge, Rep. Mazzochi filed legislation this week to curb any further heavy-handed rulemaking. The legislation amends the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, upon which the Governor’s Executive Orders rest, to limit his power to revoke or suspend occupational or professional licenses merely for failing to comply with the Governor’s COVID-19 Orders. “The bill restores due process by allowing State agencies to revoke licenses only if a court order has been obtained and notice has been provided to the relevant State legislators of the district in which the business or person resides.”

Mazzochi emphasized that the lawmaking process must return to the General Assembly. “The people of Illinois deserve the chance to stand up for their rights, and the General Assembly has the right to make the laws and vote on any plans the Governor has for our state.”