McConchie sponsors legislation to limit disaster proclamations

Illinois Governors could be required to seek legislative input before extending disaster proclamations beyond 30 days under legislation introduced by State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods).

Currently the Illinois constitution allows a governor to issue a disaster proclamation for only 30 days, but does not expressly prohibit the governor from re-issuing those declarations every 30 days. McConchie’s legislation would require the governor to receive legislative approval after the first 30 days.

“The idea that a governor can repeatedly and unilaterally continue to issue disaster declarations and exercise unparalleled power and authority over nearly every aspect of our lives – without any oversight from the legislative branch – is truly troubling,” said McConchie. “Our government is built on the idea that the different branches of government offer checks-and-balances on each other’s power. My legislation would provide a check on the governor’s powers in a state of emergency and restore a balance between the executive and legislative branches.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued his first disaster proclamation on March 9 to unlock federal resources to combat COVID-19. Under the authority given to him by that proclamation, Pritzker issued the state’s first stay-at-home order, which took effect on March 20. On April 1, a new disaster proclamation and extension of the state’s stay at home order took effect. Yesterday, the Governor announced that he will again issue a disaster proclamation for the month of May along with a revised stay-at-home order.

Senate Bill 3987, filed by McConchie on April 23, would require that after an initial disaster proclamation, the governor could only extend that declaration or make further proclamations concerning the same disaster if the General Assembly passes a resolution to approve the extension. If the General Assembly is unable to meet due to health or safety concerns, an extension or further proclamation could continue to be in effect if the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Minority Leader of the Senate, and Minority Leader of the House submit written certification that the legislature is unable to convene to provide necessary approval of the extension or further proclamation. 

This legislation would ensure that lawmakers have a seat at the table, providing an important check on executive power in emergency situations. Legislators would have to approve details of the proclamation, allowing for negotiation if members of the General Assembly disagreed with specific details of the proclamation.

“At its core, what this legislation does is ensures that appropriate checks-and-balances are in place, and that co-equal branches of government can work together to provide for the health and safety of the people of this state,” said McConchie.

A copy of the legislation is available at this link.

Dan McConchie

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