From the Offices of the Illinois Senate Republicans and Illinois House Republicans
(Springfield) After seeing the early success of a citizens’ movement to take back Illinois, Republican Leaders Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) filed resolutions today to amend the Illinois Constitution with reforms that would take the power of drawing legislative maps out of lawmakers’ hands and place it into the hands of an independent commission.
“This resolution will also take away the ridiculous “hat provision” which has decided who draws the legislative map for the last three decades,” said Cross. “When lawmakers and the governor can’t agree on a legislative map—we draw a name out of a hat. We’re the only state in the nation that allows this winner take all approach.”
House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 56 and Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 104 take an initiative sponsored by the League of Women Voters and other government reform groups and put it into legislation for General Assembly passage.
“We are proposing to take the politics out of the redistricting process and let voters choose their elected representatives. This is the reform that citizens are demanding. This proposal is specifically designed to empower the voters of Illinois,” Leader Radogno said. “We know we could face strong opposition but regardless of the past we have a responsibility to seek good public policy. Redistricting reform must happen in Illinois.”
“We will continue to push hard for a House vote on our amendment. The residents are demanding it,” added Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). “The political reality is that the Democrats in control don’t want it.”
The current process allows legislative leaders to draw district boundaries behind closed doors. The constitutional amendment would require public hearings, ensure public display of proposed maps and allow public submission of proposed maps. Since 2001, incumbents have a 98% reelection rate; passage of the amendment will encourage competition and promote diversity.
The League of Women Voters has taken the lead in recommending the constitutional amendment, and has partnered with other reform groups, including: the Better Government Association, members of the Illinois Reform Commission, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, Common Cause – Illinois, the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, Illinois Alliance for Growth, Independent Voters of Illinois and United Power for Action and Justice.
“We are thrilled that legislative leaders are proposing this constitutional amendment with our language in it—and we are hopeful that lawmakers will do the right thing and pass it through the General Assembly,” said Jan Czarnik, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters.
According to state law, in order for the Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment to appear on the ballot in November—the General Assembly must pass it with a 3/5th majority by May 2, 2010 (six months before the election).
“There are other proposals out there, but we believe only one that empowers an independent authority is true reform,” said Deputy Senate Republican Leader Dale Righter. “Any proposal that continues to have lawmakers draw their own districts is not reform.”