Illinois House Republicans say they're not being given virus information

Illinois House Republicans say they're not being given virus information

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Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said Thursday he's ready to file open records requests with the Pritzker administration in order to get details of the science and other data it is using to set anti-coronavirus policies.

Davidsmeyer was one of several Springfield area House Republicans who voiced criticism Thursday of the way Gov. JB Pritzker is continuing to handle the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Davidsmeyer said Republican lawmakers haven't been given details of what information Pritzker is using to determine when areas of the state should be allowed to reopen. Many Republicans have been critical of Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan because they think it moves too slowly and does not separate the state into enough regions.

"One of the things we've been trying to get from the governor for quite some time is data," Davidsmeyer said. "We keep hearing the governor talk about science and basing everything on science. We agree. We want to base everything on facts. The issue that we are having is that as a co-equal branch of government we do not have access to that data."

The Jacksonville Republican said GOP lawmakers have asked to speak to Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and the acting state epidemiologist Dr. Wayne Duffus, but have been denied.

"His answer is listen to my press conferences," Davidsmeyer said.

He said he's made other requests in writing that were ignored. Consequently, Davidsmeyer said he'll make requests under the Freedom of Information Act to try to get the information.

"I expect to receive some real factual information," he said. "right now I question whether we are basing our decisions on science or whether there is some consultant somewhere making decisions for the governor."

The Pritzker administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Republicans held a news conference Thursday as lawmakers prepare to return to Springfield for the first time in weeks amid growing unrest in some downstate areas about the pace that Illinois is planning to reopen. Some areas are openly defying Pritzker's stay at home order even though most if not all of the state is on a pace to further loosen restrictions at the end of the month.

Pritzker has warned that areas that ignore his executive orders risk losing federal assistance that comes into Illinois if their actions cause adverse effects. Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said he thinks Pritzker was wrong to make that threat.

"I don't think the governor should be threatening anyone on federal tax dollars that pass through dollars to our communities," Butler said. "These are largely formula funds. For the governor to hold that over our communities is just ridiculous."

He said the reason some areas are defying Pritzker is because "the state of Illinois is passing up the governor on this."

"People want to save lives, yes, absolutely. But people also want to save their livelihoods," Butler said. "He's not stepping up to the plate on the economic side of this and giving it the same weight as the health side of it."


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