SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A bipartisan 9-0 vote in the State Capitol Tuesday appears to mean there's no longer a statewide mask mandate for Illinois schools.
However, in some places, such as the City of Chicago, local mask mandates may remain in effect.
Earlier this month, a judge in Sangamon County ruled Gov. JB Pritzker's mask mandate invalid. While the governor appealed that ruling to Illinois' Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the mask mandate order itself expired on Sunday.
When Gov. Pritzker asked the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to renew the mask mandate Tuesday, lawmakers refused. The vote was a stunning bipartisan 9-0, with two lawmakers abstaining.
The Beverly neighborhood’s State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), president pro tempore of the Senate, said in a written statement reported by Capitol Fax: "We have an active court case on this matter, the outcome of which should provide clarity for what next steps are needed. Acting now would be premature given that pending ruling and also given the fact that the previous rule amounted to guidance without any real enforcement."
A spokeswoman for Gov. Pritzker told FOX 32 Chicago the mask mandate had not been wiped out, but she conceded, "It’s confusing."
- "The document is a draft plan that was put together for discussion within the agency and in order to start discussions with stakeholders. It was not presented to the Governor’s Office for final approval because it is a draft that is expected to be updated after more discussions. The Department is always interested in considering new ideas to better serve their population and this draft plan is an attempt to spur discussion about ways to improve services," said Pritzker's press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh.
Lawmakers, including Democrats, objected to renewing the mask mandate for schools until a pending court battle over the mandate has been resolved.
Senate Republican Deputy Leader Sue Rezin (R-Morris) issued the following statement after the vote.
- "Today, the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules made it clear that we would not accept the Governor’s attempts to go above a court ruling made by a co-equal branch of government.
- "Instead of allowing our judicial system to work through its process, the Governor tried to double down on his unilateral approach to COVID-19 mitigations by reissuing the same exact rules that a Sangamon County judge nullified earlier this month. This move was both bad government and dangerous to the rule of law as it ignored the court’s ruling on due process.
- "In his quest for power and control, Pritzker and his Administration was willing to further the chaos and confusion for schools throughout the state. With this bipartisan vote, I hope that the Governor finally recognizes that his go-it-alone tactic is not in the best interest of our state or its people."
Republican candidate for Illinois governor Jesse Sullivan issued the following statement.
- "Today’s JCAR vote is a victory for separation of powers and the rule of law. Pritzker’s agenda is clearer than ever: seize total control of Illinois kids and schools, answering to no one but his most radical teacher's union backers. His actions are so extreme that his own party is now rejecting them. And in November, voters will too."
Republican candidate for Illinois governor and State Sen. Darren Bailey issued the following statement.
- "Today’s ruling shows that even Democrats don’t believe Pritzker has the power to enforce his tyrannical mandates. I am thankful other legislators are finally stepping up to help end the mandates and get the masks off of our kids. As Governor, I’ll remove all of Pritzker’s mandates on day one. It’s time for change."
This is a developing story.