CHICAGO – House Speaker Michael J. Madigan released the following statement Wednesday:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented crisis for our state and forced us all to find a new normal. For several weeks, members of the Illinois House have been working together in a bipartisan fashion to navigate this new landscape. Democrats and Republicans have worked virtually to continue discussion on myriad issues before the General Assembly, carefully balancing the business of the state while keeping the health and safety of members, staff and the public paramount.
“I have always been certain that especially in times of crisis, the important work of the General Assembly must continue. In consultation with Governor Pritzker, Senate President Harmon, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and other stakeholders, the Illinois House will convene a special legislative session starting Wednesday, May 20 for a minimum of three days.
“The House will gather at the Bank of Springfield Center under an IDPH-approved plan that includes comprehensive safety measures to protect members, staff and the public. We’ve chosen this venue to better allow for the recommended health and social distancing measures outlined by IDPH. With more space than provided at the Capitol building, we can preserve medically guided public access to House proceedings while working to ensure members, staff and the public are at least 6 feet apart at all times. The special session will be open to the public in a limited capacity under the direction and enforcement of the Illinois State Police. The special session will be livestreamed in its entirety at www.ilga.gov.
“We will focus our efforts on passing essential legislation that protects our most vulnerable residents, including a responsible state budget that prioritizes all Illinoisans and provides some stability for our state’s economy. Earlier today, I sent Leader Durkin an IDPH-approved pledge that I am asking all House Democrats to sign committing ourselves to specific health precautions we will take upon a return to Springfield. I have asked Leader Durkin to request his caucus commit to the same IDPH-approved pledge and the same precautions to ensure we protect the health and safety of members, staff, the public and our communities.
“I recognize there are many other important issues and initiatives that need the General Assembly’s attention. Members will continue to work diligently on those issues in order to take them up at a time when we can ensure members, staff and the public can again safely gather in a regular legislative session.
“The magnitude of the crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to our state is immense. Across Illinois, communities are grappling with outbreaks, tragic loss of loved ones, and significant changes to our daily life. The financial impact has also been great, with historic levels of unemployment impacting everyone from factory workers to small business owners but hitting hardest those who have the least ability to afford it.
“People across Illinois have stood together, stayed home, raised money for those in need, saluted our first responders and essential workers and saved lives. Under Gov. Pritzker’s leadership, House Democrats are ready to work with our Republican colleagues to deal with this unprecedented crisis and enact critical legislation to protect all Illinois residents and provide support and help they will need in the weeks and months ahead.”