Illinois Republicans push back against Pritzker's mask mandate

Gary Rabine is a candidate for governor and among the Illinois Republicans pushing back against two announcements made by JB Pritzker.

"Two or three years ago, that would've been looked at as a lawsuit," Rabine said.

On Wednesday, Governor Pritzker made masks mandatory inside all Illinois schools, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and told some state employees they must get vaccinated.

Student-athletes practicing or playing games outside are exempt from the new mask mandate, which applies to students and staff inside Illinois schools. Many Republicans argued that should not be decided by Pritzker.

"Parents, teachers and elected school board members should be making this decisions at a local level," said Republican State Senator and candidate for governor Darren Bailey.


Republican Jack Lombardi is running for Congress in the 16th District against Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

"He’s outta line this time. Trust the parents. We know what's best for our children, not him. This is not communist China," Lombardi said.

Pritzker said he is not considering a broader mask mandate extending beyond schools. A conservative activist argued masks are unnecessary in suburban school districts where 80 percent or more of families have eagerly embraced vaccinations.

"The vaccination works. It's very effective. And we can go back to school safely without putting masks on 4-year olds," said Kathleen Murphy, president of breakthrough ideas.

One of the half-dozen Republicans preparing to run for governor next year raised legal objections to Pritzker’s announcement that vaccines will soon be mandatory for state employees working in group homes for veterans, the mentally ill and others.

"I don't think it should be legal for any business, any school or anyone to require a vaccine that's still an experimental/emergency stage as this one is today," Rabine said.

While the governor says that by October he'll mandate vaccines for state workers in group homes, he's also saying he'll negotiate with their union regarding it.