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J.B. Pritzker: Donald Trump is a racist, misogynist, homophobe and xenophobe

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker minced no words Friday when asked about President Donald Trump's tweets regarding the death of George Floyd and rioting that's erupted in Minneapolis. "From the very moment I announced my decision to run for governor three plus years ago, I said that this president is a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, a xenophobe," Pritzker said. "I was right then, and I am right now." Pritzker was responding to tweets in which Trump accused…

Restore Illinois: Pritzker walks back restrictions on church services

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois houses of worship are no longer restricted by Gov. JB Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan. Instead, the governor's office, on Thursday, released non-mandatory guidelines for places of worship to reopen, including recommendations for indoor services. The state recommends outdoor worship gatherings including drive-in services, where congregants remain inside vehicles, and indoor meetings of 10 people or fewer. However, for churches where those…

Illinois lawmakers forego vote on governor’s pandemic authority

By Greg Bishop SPRINGFIELD - While they passed a budget, expanded mail-in-voting and even approved cocktails to go amid a pandemic, Illinois state lawmakers didn’t provide a check on the governor’s authority to reshape the state’s economy. The Illinois General Assembly was scheduled for three days last week, but ran into overtime ending in the wee hours of Sunday. Things that were top of mind just a handful of months ago were left on the cutting room floor. Lawmakers passed a $40…

Chicago-area churches hold services, say they’re taking precautions

By Sophia Tareen Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois churches holding services Sunday despite warnings about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic said they're taking precautions to protect congregants, from scrapping communion to requiring masks.  While President Donald Trump's Friday order declaring houses of worship essential prompted some to expand, others said it was simply time to reopen as more people suffer in the pandemic.  "It's like a physician knowing that…

DOJ: Illinois coronavirus restrictions ‘appear to reach far beyond’ governor’s authority

By Jim Hagerty Reporter WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although he means well, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home orders may exceed this authority to keep parts of the state closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. That is the opinion of the U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a statement of interest in federal court Friday in an attempt to become a party to the lawsuit filed by Illinois Rep. Darren Bailey, who is challenging the constitutionality of Pritzker's executive order. "However…

Illinois House extends special session, will meet Saturday

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois House of  Representatives will take at least another day to finish its spring session, Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said Friday. Madigan said representatives need extra time for what was scheduled to be a three-day session to resolve coronavirus-related budget issues. "We have continued our work toward a state budget and voted to secure funding that will ensure vital services like health care, education, and resources for those…

Pritzker urges Illinois churches to submit reopening plans

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged faith groups across the state to submit plans for reopening to his office. And the more comprehensive, the better. The governor said it has been a challenge during the pandemic to phase churches back to in-person worship and other gatherings, which is why he put a stamp of approval on the Catholic Church's detailed plan. "Every church is different--and mosque and synagogue," Pritzker said during his Thursday…

City of Rockford announces plan for outdoor restaurant, bar seating

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - The City of Rockford, onThursday, announced that it is modifying current practices to facilitate more outdoor seating for restaurants and bars as the city moves into Phase 3 of the governor's coronavirus Restore Illinois plan. To accommodate saloons and eateries to open by May 29, the city has tasked the Public Works and Community and Economic Development departments to expedited approvals of outdoor seating. Permit fees will be waived for…

Senate GOP leader files bill to reopen Illinois businesses by June 1

By Cole Lauterbach SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has filed a measure that would require state officials to allow businesses to reopen next month, in addition to restricting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s emergency declaration powers. “The proposal put forward by the Illinois Chamber (of Commerce) is an important step in moving the discussion forward on how we safely reopen our state and get our economy moving forward more quickly,” he said. The language…

Rep. Darren Bailey tossed from session for not wearing mask, Pritzker not impressed

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - A state lawmaker who filed a lawsuit against the governor over the constitutionality of the coronavirus stay-at-home order was escorted out of a legislative session Wednesday for not wearing a face covering. After the House voted 97-12 for legislators to wear masks and Speaker Michael Madigan warned that anyone who does not comply could be removed, Rep. Darren Bailey said he was not going to follow the rule. The process to remove the Xenia Republican then…

Online grocery ordering approved for 1.8M SNAP recipients

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services on Wednesday, announced the state's plan to enable 1.8 million SNAP recipients to purchase food from participating grocery retailers online has been approved by the federal government. The new purchasing option will begin on June 2. All Link customers will be alerted when they can use their card to make food orders online. "To keep more families safe and healthy, my administration is expanding…

Outdoor seating allowed May 29 at Illinois bars, restaurants

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Illinois bars and restaurants will be permitted to offer outdoor seating at the end of the month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday. The announcement moves the provisions for eateries and saloons from Phase 4 to Phase 3 of the governor's five-phase Restore Illinois plan to restart an economy that's been nearly decimated under what's now been a nine-week stay-at-home order. Beginning May 29, outdoor dining will be permitted with tables 6 feet apart,…

Pritzker withdraws order that criminalizes stay-at-home violations

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker withdrew an emergency rule that made businesses subject to criminal prosecution if they opened earlier than specified in the state's plan to restart the economy. According to members of the bi-partisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules that Pritzker withdrew the measure Wednesday as lawmakers convened at the Capitol. The move was pushed largely by Republicans, who argued that the order exceeds the governor's authority to…

COVID-19 sacks Mike Ditka’s Gold Coast eatery

By The Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has contributed to the closing of Mike Ditka's restaurant on Chicago's Gold Coast. Ditka's Restaurant Group announced Monday that it will permanently close the downtown location because of the ongoing economic impact of the outbreak and the impending end of its lease. "We have made the extremely difficult decision to close our Chicago restaurant due to the economic impact of COVID-19 and the short term left on our lease,"…

Illinois Republicans push to remove graduated income tax from November ballot

By Jerry Nowicki Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD – State Republican leadership is pushing for a vote in the upcoming legislative session to remove a graduated income tax amendment question from the November general election ballot. “Times have changed dramatically since this initiative was first put forward,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said Monday in a video news conference. “But never more has our state's economy been challenged than it will be, and is today.”…