Senate committees address COVID-19 concerns
The Senate’s regularly scheduled legislative session was canceled this week, but Senators continued their work remotely. The Senate’s Labor, Commerce, and Health committees met to discuss a variety of issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senate Labor Committee heard testimony about the ongoing issues with the state’s unemployment insurance system. Senate Republicans expressed concern over the continued fraudulent claims, the long call-back times, and IDES offices remaining closed.
The Senate Commerce Committee also heard testimony regarding Business Interruption Grants (BIG), which seek to assist businesses forced to close under the Governor’s mitigation restrictions. Republican members of the committee expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in the process of awarding grants, and were frustrated with the fact that only 20 percent of applicants have received grants.
What garnered the most attention this week was the Senate Health Committee, which dove into the issues revolving around the Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Illinois continues to lag behind others states in the percentage of people who have received at least one dose. Additionally, Senate Republicans continue to hear from constituents regarding the struggles they face in accessing a vaccine.
Unfortunately, Dr. Ezike, the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, gave a presentation and left within 15 minutes after the start of questions and before the vast majority of Republican lawmakers' inquiries were addressed.
Following the Committee hearing, Sen. Bryant who is a member of the Health Committee, said she is frustrated by the lack of accountability by the Pritzker Administration. Just this week, the Governor signed his 13th consecutive emergency declaration, marking one full year of ruling under Executive Order. Despite having total control over every aspect of COVID-19, the Governor continues to blame everyone but his own Administration for the failures of the vaccine rollout.