Chamber of Commerce hosts Virtual Town Hall with Lawmakers

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Before lawmakers descend on Springfield for a special session, the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC) hosted a virtual town-hall meeting for local constituents.

Attending the one-hour event on Zoom were Representatives Grant Wehrli (41st district) and Amy Grant (42nd district). Illinois State Senator Laura Ellman (21st district) was scheduled to attend by the NACC but could not attend due to a last-minute Democratic Caucus meeting.

Chamber of Commerce Approved Statement on Reopening Plan

Prior to the event starting Chairman of the Board for NACC, Ian Holzhauer, released a board-approved statement regarding the reopening of business in accordance to Governor JB Pritzker’s 5-phase plan.

Along with the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, led by their president, Steve Chirico, and the Downtown Naperville Alliance, the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce fully supports Choose DuPage’s proposed plan for safely and gradually reopening businesses in DuPage County. Under the state-imposed restrictions, DuPage County and Naperville are aggregated with other areas, such as Chicago, but yet we have experienced a lower rate and declining number of COVID-19 cases. Choose DuPage’s plan is grounded in downward trajectories of new COVID-19 cases, sufficient healthcare system capacity to treat any cases, and applies only to businesses that can plan, develop and implement the appropriate safety procedures to protect their employees and customers. The plan provides a gradual, four-phase opening plan with limitations on the number of patrons permitted in each location. This approach protects the safety of our community, while at the same time, allows local businesses to reopen in a responsible way so they can avoid going out of business permanently. We need to reopen – safely, but time is of the essence. We urgently call on all local business owners, their supporters, and community members to call your elected state officials and ask that Naperville and the surrounding area be decoupled from Cook County, be allowed local control, and be allowed to adopt the Choose DuPage guidelines for reopening.

What is Next for Illinois Lawmakers

With that as a backdrop, Rep. Wehrli opened with support for NACC’s statement. Wehrli then moved to clarify what is ahead for state lawmakers. Starting Wednesday, May 19, state lawmakers will attend a three day special session called by President of the Illinois Senate Don Harmon and Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan.

On the docket to discuss will be the budgetary shortfalls and deficits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wehrli asserted Illinois will need to find ways to cut eight billion from the state’s budget to reconcile recent COID-19 related expenditures, as well as years of what he deemed shortsighted and hastily approved budget plans.

What is unclear to Wehrli is if Illinois’s state legislators will have an opportunity to debate any components of Governor Pritzker’s five-phase reopening plan, the duration for which he has extended his authority and the boundaries of the four regions drawn by the Governor’s office.

Questions from Constituents

Enforcement of Gov. Pritzker’s State Order

Joining the Zoom-conducted townhall 37 minutes into the proceedings, Rep. Grant was asked about the Governor’s recent move to classify the defying of state orders by businesses as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable through monetary fines and/or jail time. Rep. Grant expressed her belief the Governor was overstepping on the matter. This follows DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick’s statement on his facebook page asserting he will not enforce Gov. Pritzker’s orders.

An extension of extra money issued for those on unemployment

Rep. Wehrli felt extending the additional benefits for those on unemployment would ruffle too many feathers in Springfield for a consensus to be reached. This was following a discussion on restaurants reopening and having difficulty hiring back workers currently on unemployment. The issue raised: if restaurants reopen, but with capacity limitations, potential servers and bartenders are unlikely to forego the security of unemployment for limited opportunities to earn tips plus an hourly wage.

How to Make Your Voice Heard

Rep. Wehrli and Rep. Grant, in addition to a representative from Senator Ellman’s office, Mimi Cowan, asked constituents to reach out to their elected officials with questions and concerns.

Senator Ellman- Email: | Office phone: 630-453-5488

Representative Wehrli – Email: | Office phone: 630-696-4160

Representative Grant – Email: | Office phone: 331-218-4182

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