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“The members of the Barrington Area Council of Governments appreciate the efforts that have gone into developing the Restore Illinois plan. Our municipal and township governments have been compliant with the Executive Orders to keep residents safe during this COVID-19 public health situation. The Executive Board and membership have concerns, however, about provisions within the Restore Illinois plan and sent the following letter to Governor Pritzker for consideration.”

A copy of the BACOG members May 15th letter to Governor JB Pritzker can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Driver services facilities operated by the Illinois secretary of state’s office will begin reopening Monday, with the first two months reserved for new drivers, people with expired driver’s licenses or ID cards and vehicle transactions.

Due to current events, more than 700,000 expired driver’s licenses or ID cards and 1.9 million expired vehicle registrations in Illinois according to Secretary of State Jesse White.

Once the offices reopen, people will have 90 days to renew expired driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registrations. People now have until Oct. 1, 2021, to get REAL ID driver’s licenses.

For more information, visit cyberdriveillinois.com.

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Chicago restaurants won’t be ready to open on pace with rest of Illinois, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that city restaurants won’t be ready to reopen to outdoor dining by May 29, but she hopes they will be ready in June.

Chicago also is looking at the possibility of closing streets to help expand restaurants’ outdoor dining, Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot made the comments after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker opened the door to potentially lift the restriction on sit-down dining next week. While “heartened” by Pritzker’s comments, Lightfoot said she wants a more robust plan to make sure restaurants can reopen safely.

Asked about the reopening the city’s lakefront, Lightfoot said she is looking at plans for reopening but isn’t there yet.

Read more here.

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State Rep. David McSweeney is asking the U.S. Attorney General to review the governor’s stay-at-home guidelines, which McSweeney called “overreaching and unconstitutional directives.”

In a letter McSweeney sent Wednesday to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the Barrington Hills Republican expressed concerns about the lengths Gov. JB Pritzker might go to enforce his stay-at-home order. Specifically, McSweeney alleged the governor would withhold federal funds, revoke business licenses, restrain religious freedoms and charge business owners with a crime to enforce his emergency orders.

McSweeney said Pritzker considered all options to enforce the stay-at-home order, including withholding federal funding. He said in the letter that Pritzker’s actions deprive Illinois residents of emergency funding that was allocated to local governments in the fight against COVID-19.

“This should not be allowed,” he said.

Read more here.

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An agency representing 42 suburbs, including Schaumburg and Arlington Heights, has asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker to put them in a different region than Chicago in his Restore Illinois plan, and to cut in half one of the requirements to move to the next phase of recovery from coronavirus restrictions.

The Northwest Municipal Conference asked that the required number of days of a decrease in COVID-19-like hospital admissions be reduced to 14 from 28 to be able to move to the next reopening phase.

But some collar county health officials and some members of the conference itself are defending the details of the governor’s plan.

Among the 43 members of the conference — 42 suburbs as well as Northfield Township — 34 participated in a meeting Wednesday at which 20 supported the position, 12 were opposed and two abstained, Executive Director Mark Fowler said. A letter was sent to the governor Friday.

Read more here.

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To maximize participation, the state should mail a ballot to every registered voter. At the same time, it will be critical to preserve and protect in-person voting options.

This year’s primary election season will go down in history as the time American voters braved the threat of a deadly virus in order to cast their ballots. 

Amid rising calls for the public to stay home and avoid crowds to stem the coronavirus outbreak, some states chose to delay their elections while others forged ahead. Fear, anger and confusion reigned, regardless of the decision. With November fast approaching, this much is clear: We must rethink our democracy’s reliance on in-person Election Day voting.

Illinois dealt with widespread confusion on its March 17 Election Day, from poorly communicated last-minute polling location changes to a shortage of poll workers and cleaning supplies. These inefficiencies created long lines and big crowds, heightening the risks for poll workers and voters alike.

In a March 30 poll, roughly two in three U.S. adults said they were uncomfortable with the idea of voting in person. Yet voters in Wisconsin were forced to stand in line for hours to vote on April 7, after Gov. Tony Evers’ last-minute order to delay the election was blocked by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. At least seven cases of coronavirus in the state have now been linked to Election Day.

Wisconsin’s experience makes it clear that last-minute changes can disenfranchise voters and put the public at risk. It’s impossible to rule out a lingering COVID-19 or a resurgent second wave, so it’s urgent that we prepare for November’s consequential election like the emergency that it is. Illinois will need to do more to ensure the safety of in-person voting, to promote alternative voting options and to prepare election authorities for increased demand for such alternatives.

So what’s right for Illinois moving forward?

Read the Better Government Association article here.

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Zion’s Illinois Beach State Park is among the state parks that reopened this weekend. – courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The reopening of some Illinois state parks is good news for hikers, bikers and bird watchers. But those who want to camp, picnic or reserve a shelter will have to wait a while longer.

As of Friday, selected parks closed in recent weeks because of the pandemic will now be open from sunrise to sunset daily for hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, wildlife observation and mushroom collecting.

However, visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, beaches and concessions are closed and educational programs and special events are canceled. Also, hunting is suspended until further notice as are shelter reservations, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Visitors must adhere to six feet of social distancing and other safety guidelines established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes wearing face coverings.

Read more here.

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