Quick hits: Illinois news in brief for Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

Pritzker issues new executive order

On top of his most recent 30-day COVID-19 disaster proclamation, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a new order with various definitions of who, including students, to exclude from schools, like those with possible COVID-19 exposure.

Such orders are being challenged in courts with judges saying only a health department quarantine order can keep children from in-person education, and that can be challenged in court with due process.

Illinois Department of Public Health says mask rules should continue

Despite a downward trend of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds statewide, the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday filed an emergency rule requiring everyone over the age of 2 to wear masks at public places, indoors and outdoors.

The rule also says businesses should give verbal or written warnings to customers not wearing masks.

The emergency rule could come up at next month’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Republicans want to make way for voter recalls

Illinois statehouse Republicans are wanting to empower voters to hold corrupt elected officials accountable.

State Sen. Jason Barickman and state Rep. Mark Batinick joined with the Illinois Opportunity Project to promote a proposed constitutional amendment with a process of allowing local voters to petition to recall local elected officials up and down the ballot.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 3 would also allow for the recall of the Illinois Auditor General.

Pritzker announces agreement with labor union

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced an agreement with a labor union representing workers in congregate settings like the Illinois Department of Corrections, to get vaccinated.

The agreement requires such employees to have their first COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 14, and the second shot by Nov. 18.

If not, there’ll be progressive discipline, including possible discharge. There are medical and religious exemptions. Negotiations with other state employees continue.

State providing more funds for home energy assistance, other services

Around $327 million is being made available for low-income households to pay for energy bills, food, rent and other household expenses.

The funds through the Low-Income Household Energy Assistance Program and the Community Services Block Grant Program are available to eligible households regardless of immigration status.

State recognizes National Farm Safety and Health Week

Nearly 600 people die every year in farming-related accidents nationally.

The state of Illinois is recognizing this week as National Farm Safety and Health Week. As the harvest gets underway in Illinois, state officials note that most farmworker injuries and death are caused by tractor overturns.

The state is urging farmers not to overwork themselves and take care of their mental health.

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