* From the remap reform proposal…
For purposes of reapportionment and redistricting, the Commission shall count each incarcerated person as residing at his or her last known place of residence, rather than at the institution of his or her incarceration.
Prisoners from outside Illinois are exempt, of course. I’m thinking some Downstaters may not love this because their districts will get much larger. Doing this would also make it much easier to eliminate a Downstate congressional district after reapportionment.
* Brian Mackey…
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced an amendment to the Illinois Constitution meant to transform the way legislative district boundaries are created here.
The idea is to have an independent commission draw legislative districts for the General Assembly and Congress.
The task is supposed to happen every 10 years after the census, and in Illinois has been handled by whatever party controls state government — presently Democrats.
The commission would be picked by the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the next most senior justice elected from a different party. (Today that’s Chief Justice Anne Burke, who was elected as a Democrat, and Justice Robert Thomas, who was elected as a Republican. Thomas has announced his retirement for the end of this month; Justice Rita Garman will then be the longest-tenured Republican on the court).
I respect Justice Burke and I don’t believe she should be judged by her husband. But the time’s are changing, so her power over the remap will be a super-easy talking point against this proposal.
* From former GOP Rep. Peter Breen, who is running against Rep. Terra Costa Howard to get his old job back…
Rep. Terra Costa Howard’s political patron and chief campaign funder, House Speaker Michael Madigan, has held back Fair Maps for years, fighting citizen initiatives in the courts and squashing amendment resolutions in the General Assembly. Everyone in the state knows that no Fair Maps amendment can pass the General Assembly until Madigan resigns or is removed. Yet Costa Howard continues to support Madigan for Speaker, even in the teeth of her campaign promises that she would be independent of and wouldn’t support Madigan. Costa Howard’s filing of another Fair Maps amendment can’t distract from the fact she has no discernible body of work in her time in the General Assembly: all she’s demonstrated is an inability to tell the truth.
That’s why our people-powered movement, FairMapsIllinois.com, has been quietly collecting signatures to put a clean, simple, legally-sound Fair Maps amendment on the November ballot, going around Madigan and his General Assembly enablers, including Terra Costa Howard. The citizen initiative process is the one sure way, free of interference from the corrupt Springfield machine, for the people of Illinois to finally reach their goal of achieving Fair Maps.
While he’s right about Madigan’s recalcitrance, Breen’s Fair Maps Illinois committee has reported raising just $100. And his committee’s website prominently features a photo of… himself.
* More on the leadership angle from Finke’s piece…
[Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake] said it will be up to lawmakers to work around any potential opposition from legislative leaders.
“I believe that if we have a mass of legislators that want this amendment to move forward and be on the ballot, that’s the way the leaders are going to pay attention, know we’re serious,” Bush said. “It has to be bipartisan. It’s up to us.”
She cited the Reproductive Health Act from last year that was stalled until rank and file lawmakers put enough pressure on the leaders to start moving it. The bill passed and is now law.
“We must stand together and we must build a mass,” Bush said.
The question is, do rank and file Democrats truly want this to pass enough to say they will shut down the process unless they get what they want? That’s what happened with RHA last year. House Democratic freshmen told Speaker Madigan it had to be called or they were walking. It was called. It remains to be seen whether this proposal has that level of enthusiasm behind it.
Also, the fact that zero legislators of color were at yesterday’s press conference and none are listed as co-sponsors argues against that happening.
* From Hannah Meisel’s piece…
Madeleine Doubek, a former journalist and executive director of Change Illinois, said the measure introduced Thursday — dubbed the Fair Maps Amendment — would protect the rights of Black and Latino residents of Illinois and uphold the federal Voting Rights Act as well as the state voting rights law.
“We will do everything to protect voting rights,” Doubek said.
OK, prove it by finding some sponsors of color.
A 2014 analysis by the Washington Post named Illinois’ 4th congressional district, consisting of western Chicago suburbs such as Cicero and Brookfield, among the 10 most gerrymandered in the country. The district, which elected Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García in 2018 by a 73-point margin, resembles a pair of earmuffs. The two sides of the district are connected by a narrow patch of grass under Interstate 290.
That district was drawn under Republican dominance of the 1991 remap to create the first Latinx congressional district in state history. That’s not gerrymandering, unless you oppose racial equity.
* Center Square…
State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, said the way the maps are drawn now with the majority party controlling where the lines go breeds toxic politics.
“It only pushes incumbents to adopt an extremist political manifesto in an attempt to hold on to that seat,” Bush said. “Democrats become more liberal and Republicans more conservative and we lose any chance to a healthy balance between the two extremes.”
Amid ongoing federal corruption probes involving state lawmakers, state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said an independent commission is needed to combat self-interested politicians.
“So if you want to root out corruption in this state, this is the place we need to start,” he said.
It’s true that incumbents in “safe” districts only need to worry about their primaries. But we saw a number of “safe” suburban districts all of a sudden become toss-up districts in 2018. And, I don’t care how fair the maps are, you can’t draw a Democratic Senate district in Effingham nor a Republican Senate District in Englewood.
Also, did unfair maps really prompt Martin Sandoval to take bribes and Luis Arroyo to bribe a Senator? I’d like to see some data to back up that often-used talking point.
* But I do agree with this…
“The time for an end to gerrymandering is now so that we’re not saddled with another ten years of maps that stifle competition and suppress voters’ choices,” Doubek said.