SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Darren Bailey, the southern Illinois lawmaker suing the governor over his executive order, was removed from the House of Representatives’ special session Wednesday for refusing to wear a face mask after his colleagues passed a rule requiring one.
By a bipartisan 81-27 vote on the floor of the Bank of Springfield Center — a convention hall serving as a makeshift, social distancing-friendly legislative chamber — the House voted to remove Bailey until he complied with the House rule passed minutes earlier.
After that initial vote, Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, D-Hillside, asked Bailey to come into compliance. The Xenia Republican replied, “I will not.”
Welch then made the motion to remove Bailey.
Rep. Dan Caulkins, a Republican from Decatur, spoke before the vote to remove, asking Welch to withdraw the motion.
“We’ve all taken a test,” Caulkins said, referring to members of the Illinois House. “We are social distancing, we’re maintaining our space. And if someone chooses to exercise their right, I don’t think that we should take punitive action against them. I think this is a mistake.”
Speaking to reporters outside the convention center after he was removed, Bailey said he did not get tested before he arrived in Springfield. House and Senate leadership instructed legislators last week to get tested for COVID-19 before Wednesday’s session.
“I cannot sit in there and be a part of just a puppet game,” Bailey said. “If I thought I was really doing something meaningful other than just a show, I certainly would do it.”
During Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s daily press briefing Wednesday, the governor described Bailey’s behavior as showing “a callous disregard for life” and “people’s health.”
“You just heard a doctor tell you why people wear masks in the first place. It’s to protect others. So clearly the representative has no interest in protecting others,” Pritzker said.
Bailey filed his lawsuit against Pritzker last month in Clay County, where he lives. The suit challenges the validity of Pritzker’s successive disaster proclamations since his first 30-day order in March. His amended complaint argues that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act does not empower Pritzker to implement a stay-at-home order that lasts longer than 30 days.
The Illinois Supreme Court denied a direct review of his case earlier this month after a circuit judge granted a temporary restraining order exempting Bailey from the stay-at-home rules. That TRO was vacated days later by the 5th District Appellate Court.
Clay County, with about 13,000 residents and one hospital, has reported two positive cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths as of Wednesday, according to IDPH data.
Last week, 4th Judicial Circuit Judge Michael D. McHaney denied the state’s motion to remove the lawsuit to Sangamon County. A hearing on Bailey’s motion for summary judgment was set for Friday before McHaney, but on Thursday the Illinois Attorney General’s office removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.