State Rep. Darren Bailey told more than 60 people Friday morning at a Utica business, "everything going on right now [with COVID-19 restriction] is a ploy by our governor."
A group of Illinois state Republican lawmakers spoke at Jamie's Outpost as part of a statewide 15-stop bus tour.
They were there to talk about a number of issues they believe are important to the upcoming election, including the state's COVID-19 restrictions.
La Salle County was moved into the state's warning level Friday for COVID-19, because its positivity rate had increased above 8% in the past seven days. So far, indoor and outdoor dining are allowed within the county under certain guidelines, but some regions of the state have had indoor dining shut down.
"There's a lot of fear Gov. Pritzker instilled fear into our state," Bailey [R-Xenia] told those in attendance during a speech. "Friends, he has no authority to do anything. Believe me. Chances are you'll be visited by the health department. You could be visited by the state police. You could be visited by the local authority and they're going to come in here and tell you to shut this place down. Friends, you can't do that in a Constitutional republic. The Constitution guarantees that. Even our state Constitution guarantees that. There's this thing called due process. You are innocent until proven guilty. The accusing body has to prove by being here, you are going to get COVID. They cannot do that, friends."
Bailey sued Pritzker earlier this year challenging the governor's use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He went on to say he believes Pritzker's emergency orders have been used to "destroy the state's economy" and to acquire a federal bailout.
Beth Findley, treasurer of the La Salle County Republicans, who attended Friday's session, said she has a few friends that have had to close their business because of the COVID-19 restrictions and believes the state needs change.
"I really believe we need to open up Illinois," Findley said. "We cannot put these restrictions on businesses. I'm not a COVID-19 denier. It's real, but the survival rate is 99.9%. Young people need to be outside and working, we need to protect those in nursing homes, but we cannot shut down the whole economy.
"I believe in letting people be free to decide what they want to do. If you're afraid or immunocompromised, stay home, wear your mask, be careful, keep your distance. But if you're young and healthy, you have to get out and work."
La Salle County has had 63 deaths from complications related to COVID-19 out of 2,319 confirmed cases. Of those 63 deaths, 47 of those deaths have been connected to nursing home outbreaks.
State reps. Chris Miller [R-Oakland], Dan Caulkins [R-Decatur], Blaine Wilhour [R-Beecher City], Brad Halbrook [R-Shelbyville] and Bailey, as well as others also talked about taxes, corruption and what’s next for Illinois.
"Everybody has a little different piece of the puzzle at these events," said Miller just before boarding the bus headed for Rockford. "We have those talking about voting no against the [progressive] tax increase that Gov. JB Pritzker has shoved down everybody's throat, and guys like Blaine are speaking about the corruption in the state.
"Darren has been talking about his lawsuit with Pritzker that he continues to win. Pritzker has no constitutional authority to do anything, he might as well sit down and shut up. The people of the state of Illinois need to understand that."
Bailey’s case was one of several cases filed around the state, all by Greenville attorney Thomas DeVore.
Those cases were eventually consolidated into one case in Sangamon County Circuit Court, according to Capitol News Illinois.
During a hearing Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Darren Kinkead argued all of the cases should be dismissed because, in the case of public health emergencies, the state’s Emergency Management Act gives the governor broad authority to act proactively in order to prevent the spread of a disease.
DeVore argued that the lawsuits should be allowed to proceed because that’s the only way the plaintiffs can conduct depositions and gather the evidence necessary to prove their case, according to Capitol News Illinois.
The No. 1 goal for the group Wilhour said is to remind people the importance to vote, but to make sure those decisions are made "with all the facts known."
"We just want to raise support and awareness to make sure people to get out and vote, there are some really important things going on," he said. "One is the progressive income tax, we want to inform people that they are basically asking folks to make those in power even more powerful. That is not a good idea overall and especially not in our state.
"This is one of the only opportunities we have to bring these corrupt politicians to the table and talk about real solutions. We need to vote this thing down and we are ready to talk."
Wilhour also added the importance of supporting local business and for them to be able to stay open
"All of these policies, all of these restrictions, pretty much everything that comes out of Springfield or (Washington) D.C. has disproportionate effects on working class, small business people," said Wilhour. "We need to give these people support and encouragement and let them know it's time to rise up, put a line in the sand and say 'No more.'
"We are destroying people right now, lives and livelihoods. We know what we need to do, we can protect vulnerable people, but these business owners need to stay open, people are depending on them.
"We have had phenomenal turnouts throughout this tour and the people of Illinois are ready for change."