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Illinois lawmakers push for ‘Fair Maps’ redistricting amendment

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Springfield (WEEK) -- The Illinois House of Representatives joined the Senate Thursday in filing a constitutional amendment to change how districts are drawn, but some of the state's most powerful figures have been quiet on the subject.

The amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Ryan Spain (R, Peoria), prioritizes minority voices while taking map-drawing away from the legislature.

The proposal instead calls on the state's Chief Justice to form a 17-member commission. The commission would have to reflect Illinois' demographics from the most recent census. Nobody who's served in government in the previous five years would be eligible, and serving on the commission disqualifies a person from holding a legislative seat for a decade.

"This is not a place for 'to the victor go the spoils,'" Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D, Chicago) said. "The party that wins shouldn't then be able to keep pushing that envelope and keep pushing us into those extreme positions."

The senators were unable to promise that House Speaker Mike Madigan (D, Chicago) or Gov. JB Pritzker (D, Illinois) would get behind the bill. Gov. Pritzker has promised to veto unfair maps, but has not weighed in on this amendment.

Peoria senators Chuck Weaver (R) and Dave Koehler (D) support the senate version of the amendment, which is nearly identical.

As with all constitutional amendments, two thirds of legislators would need to approve it. It would then have to appear on ballots statewide at least six months after that. Two-thirds of Illinois voters would also have to say yes.

"This is a message we as Illinoisans and Illinois legislators have to say '#BeLikeIllinois.'" Sen. Melinda Bush (D, Grayslake) said. "How about you do the right thing? How about you stand up for your voters? How about you stand up for the people who elected you and stop standing up for your party first?"

Sen. Melinda Bush (D, Grayslake)
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