Reick, JCAR Suspends Governor’s School Mask Mandate

Today my colleagues and I on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted 9-0-2 to suspend the Illinois Department of Public Health emergency rule requiring masks to be worn in schools.

This vote had nothing to do with masks, it was based upon a strict examination of an emergency rule issued yesterday to replace an emergency rule which expired on Sunday and had been ruled null and void by a Sangamon County Court. As the Democratic co-chair of JCAR stated, the issuance of yesterday’s rule was premature and unenforceable.

JCAR’s job is to assure that administrative rules written by state agencies conform to the statutes that enable their issuance. If we were to have approved a rule that had no adequate enforcement mechanism and which had been invalidated by a court, we’d have been nothing but a rubber stamp.

The responsibility for this confusion lies squarely at the feet of the Governor. I find it rich that after our vote, the Governor’s spokesman said he “looks forward to continuing to work with members of the General Assembly, school districts, parents, communities and all stakeholders”. When has he worked with the General Assembly?

We’re where we are today because J.B. Pritzker has spent the past 2 years xeroxing and re-issuing disaster declarations and making executive orders without any input from the “stakeholders” whose input he now says he seeks. What he’s really seeking is cover.

Had we had an honest debate, had he not created a situation that now pits one side against the other in political warfare instead of trying to find an offramp to this nightmare, we could have avoided today’s vote. He has no one to blame but himself.