Over the weekend I became aware of two important issues related to the Governor’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Information about both is still being collected, but I want to bring you up to speed with what I know as of today.
Governor Pritzker Files Emergency Rules to Criminalize Small Business Owners who Defy Executive Orders
Late in the day Friday, the Governor quietly issued an emergency rule that would make it a jailable offense for small businesses deemed by the Pritzker administration as “non-essential” to reopen in violation of his executive orders. The rule would allow for Class A Misdemeanor charges to be filed against otherwise lawful business owners. Penalties could be up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. This is a blatant overreach of the Governor’s authority.
DuPage County Sheriff Jim Mendrick issued a statement and said his office will not enforce the Governor’s shut down orders. Click here to read that letter. It’s a great letter and I hope you will take a moment to read it.
When the legislature returns to Springfield on Wednesday, May 20, the Illinois Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will meet to decide whether to allow or block Governor Pritzker’s new emergency rule. I have been assured that the Republicans who serve on JCAR will try to block this new rule, but I would strongly encourage you to contact the Democrat members of JCAR and urge them to vote to also block this ridiculous overreach of government power. JCAR members’ information is found at this link.
Data Breach at IDES Exposes Personal Information of Thousands of 1099 Workers
One of my downstate House Republican colleagues was notified by a constituent on Friday that while on the IDES unemployment filing site she was able to access the private information of 1099 workers who had filed for unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. The private information that was exposed includes names, addresses, social security numbers and unemployment claim numbers.
The Governor’s office was quickly notified, but did not initially respond. Only after State Representative Terri Bryant went public with the information did she hear from the Pritzker administration that they were looking into it and handling it. These 1099 workers did not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits and had to wait two months before the PUA program was made available to them. After going two months without a paycheck, it was a gut-punch to learn that their private information was made public.
We deserve answers, and Governor Pritzker can no longer continue giving lip service to the widespread failings at IDES. We deserve to know when the Governor’s office and IDES learned of the breach, how many people’s information was made public and for how long, how they will be notified that their information was part of the breach, and what steps were taken to remedy the problem. We also deserve to know what steps were taken to prevent a similar breach in the future. This is just the latest in a series of problems with IDES’ handling of unemployment claims. The Governor and his employees must do better. Click here to Read Rep. Bryant’s press release on the issue.
House Republicans Urge Pritzker to Look at “Whole Picture” in COVID-19 Response
We hear daily about confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths, but the Governor has been silent on other important issues related to his response, and how they are affecting people’s well-being. Yesterday I joined 39 House Republicans in sending a letter to Governor JB Pritzker, urging him to consider the “human toll” of the COVID-19 crisis is having outside of actual confirmed virus cases and deaths. Specifically, we are asking the Governor to take into account the effects that long-term social isolation is having on mental and long-term health for Illinoisans.
Since the start of the stay home orders, there has been a documented uptick in instances of suicide, substance abuse, and domestic violence. As the Governor continues to extend his orders for people to stay at home, he needs to start looking at the whole picture, including the mental health harm he is causing. Click here to read our letter.
DuPage County to Offer Small Business Relief Grants
Just a reminder that in an effort to assist small businesses and independent contractors impacted by COVID-19, DuPage County, in cooperation with Choose DuPage, is providing grants to assist with employee retention payroll costs, utilities and rent.
Small businesses with fewer than 15 full-time employees and less than $1.5 million in annual revenue may apply for a grant up to $15,000. Independent contractors with more than 50% of their annual income coming from 1099 work, and an annual income of less than $100,000 may apply for a grant up to $7,500. Businesses and contractors that have received other funds intended for COVID-19 relief are not eligible to apply. Applications are now being accepted. For additional information, click here.