Rep. Murphy Objects to Rule Threatening Small Businesses

State Representative Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) is objecting to a rule filed by Governor Pritzker’s administration that charges businesses with a Class A misdemeanor for individuals who do not comply with mandatory face covering requirements.

“I fully support the wearing of face coverings to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but holding a business criminally liable for the individual actions of a customer goes too far,” said Murphy. “Businesses of all sizes are still struggling to make ends meet, and the overwhelming majority have been doing the right thing by requiring staff to wear face coverings and encouraging customers to do the same. Forcing them to be the ‘mask police’ and threatening them with a fine up to $2,500 is not only inappropriate, but it is once again an overreach by the Governor. This is exactly why the full legislature should be meeting and addressing these important policy issues.”

Following public outcry and pressure from Republicans in the General Assembly, a similar rule filed by the administration was withdrawn in May. This time, the Governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) altered the rule to allow for a business to be issued a warning before being cited with a Class A misdemeanor. Although businesses will not face jail time under the new rule, the charge carries a fine of up to $2,500, as Murphy noted, and businesses will be held liable for customers who refuse to comply, not simply their staff.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), which reviews rules issued by state administrative agencies, had the opportunity to suspend the rule at his hearing today. However, while all six Republicans on the committee voted to suspend the rule, no Democrats joined the motion that required eight votes to the pass, allowing the rule to stay in effect.