Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Racial diversity finally coming to the fore in redistricting reform debate
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Racial diversity finally coming to the fore in redistricting reform debate

Monday, Mar 1, 2021

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch gave his standard reply to a question about redistricting reform last week when queried at the Chicago Economic Club, saying different people have different opinions about what a “fair map” actually is.

But then the new House speaker leaned a bit harder into the concept of protecting minority rights when redrawing the new legislative district maps than I’ve heard him do in the past.

“I think a fair map is a map that reflects the diversity of our state,” Welch said. “Diversity is the strength of Illinois. Look at the Democratic Caucus, for instance. Diversity is the strength of our caucus. If you look at a map and it doesn’t reflect the diversity of the state, I don’t know how anyone can call that a fair map.”

While former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s folks often talked about that very issue, the media tended to ignore their argument because it was emanating from the widely proclaimed Gerrymanderer in Chief. Illinois now has its first ever Black House speaker with Welch, and that likely will mean much more focus on this particular topic.

The House Black Caucus did quite well with the 2011 remap, considering Black population loss in the previous decade, and undoubtedly it will do whatever it can to hold onto its position during the coming map-drawing process, whatever that process entails. The chamber’s Latinx Caucus made some gains a decade ago, but it and the Asian American/Pacific Islander/Native American demographic still have a long ways to go before they reach any sort of parity with their U.S. Census numbers.

As a whole, the Illinois House is somewhat more diverse than the state. The House is 69.5% white, while the state is 76.8% white. The House is 18.6% Black, which is more than the state’s 14.6% Black population. But the House is just 8.5% Latino, including last week’s addition of new Rep. Angie Guerrero Cuellar, which is less than half of Illinois’ 18.5%. And though 6.6% of Illinois is AAPI/Native American, just 3.4% of House members are in that demographic.

And since Welch mentioned the diversity of his party’s caucus, it’s now 50.7% white, while the 2016 demographic Census estimates of House districts his Democrats represent shows 48% of those residents are white. That’s pretty close.

However, 30.1% of the House Democratic Caucus is Black, even though Black residents make up just 20% of the population in districts represented by House Democrats, according to Census estimates.

Compare that to the 13.7% of the House Democratic Caucus that is Latino — much less than the actual Latino population of 23% in House districts represented by Democrats. And while 5.5% of the House Democratic Caucus is AAPI/Native American, that demographic comprises 9% of the population in House Democrat districts.

To be fair, making nearly a quarter of House Democratic seats into Latino-led districts and almost one in ten AAPI/Native American-led districts probably will not be possible because of population concentration or the lack thereof. But whatever the final number, Speaker Welch has quite a delicate balancing act ahead of him.

While we’re on the topic of reform, Welch also said last week that the required economic interest disclosure statement for legislators and others in government is “a worthless piece of document.”

Responding to a question about ethics reforms he supports, the new House speaker said the legislature’s Commission on Ethics Reform was a “good start,” though the group has barely got started. He also said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposals were a “good start,” adding, “We need to take a look at many of those things and go from there.”

That’s when he mentioned the Statement of Economic Interest. “You know, it confuses us,” he said of those who have to file the statement every year, disclosing some forms of outside income. “So imagine what it does to the layperson.”

Some legislators have claimed to have been confused about what they should disclose after stories were written about income they didn’t disclose. While some of that was just excuse-making, there are some legitimate gripes about the vagueness of the law. On the other hand, the public might wonder why the recently retired Senate Republican leader didn’t legally have to disclose an interest in a video gaming company.

Welch also said the General Assembly should take a look at other things like legislators working as lobbyists and revolving-door prohibitions. We’ll see if he pulls any of this off.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - Perrid - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 9:20 am:

    Not sure talking about percentages really makes sense with such small numbers in the House. 118 house members, so instead of 4 Asian American/Pacific Islander/Native American it “should be” 7 or 8. It’s really, really hard to say anything about a sample that small, where 3 noisy data points could comprise half the sample. Especially with all the confounding facotrs, some of which Rich mentioned or at least alluded too.


  2. - Perrid - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 9:37 am:

    On second thought maybe saying it doesn’t “make sense” is too strong, I’m just worried people will just look at the percentages and say the map is great or terrible without understanding the difference could literally be 3 seats. The numbers are gonna be volatile.


  3. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 9:43 am:

    Great piece, Rich.

    ===Some legislators have claimed to have been confused about what they should disclose after stories were written about income they didn’t disclose. ===

    When this happens at least it’s always good for a chuckle.

    ===“I think a fair map is a map that reflects the diversity of our state,”===

    We’re aiming for a representative government. I’m comfortable being represented by a person of any race, gender, or religion as long as the support enough of the policies and generic vision for government as I do — at the very least, more than their opponent.

    The truth is if we were seeking something that was fair, we would need to see decades of very little or even no representation of whites in the legislature or statewide office.

    Obviously there would be a lot of people that might object to the idea of few or no whites holding elected office in the state for several decades but that’s my opinion about what would actually constitute fairness — having a government that didn’t have any representation of anyone from your broad generic racial category in any meaningful capacity for decades.

    We might call it “fair maps” but the truth is that we’re aiming for a representative government, not fairness. A lot of folks would really object to what’s fair.

    The GOP is going to be unhappy with anything that doesn’t apportion house districts by acres, so it doesn’t really matter what they think anyway.


  4. - Levois J - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 10:17 am:

    To actually create district that insure representation matches the state’s diversity is always a challenge. I get the feeling no matter what anyone tries to do in trying to get there no one will be happy. And it’s right to ask the question, “what is a fair map?”.

    It is different things to different people.


  5. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:06 am:

    ==That’s when he mentioned the Statement of Economic Interest. “You know, it confuses us,” he said of those who have to file the statement every year, disclosing some forms of outside income. “So imagine what it does to the layperson.”==

    I was confronted with that thing for years (I served on a school board). The wording of the questions is very confusing.


  6. - Blake - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:24 am:

    The way to get diversity in the General Assembly to reflect the state would involve a house being proportional representation. I remember Daniel Biss pondering whether it’s redundant to have both houses winner-take-all districts & it strikes me having one house with proportional representation would resolve that redundancy & better fit diversity of the state than only having local majorities represented.


  7. - West Side the Best Side - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:38 am:

    Maybe if we don’t have the census results in on time we can have another Bedsheet Ballot. Is there an Adlai IV or V out there looking to run?


  8. - Watcher of the Skies - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 11:42 am:

    Probably a good time to point out that the General Assembly just (finally) fixed prison gerrymandering - but effective in 2025.

    Still time for the GA to fix it for this remap!


  9. - JB13 - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    So we’re beginning this discussion from the presupposition that Illinois state government isn’t diverse enough?

    That’s a very… interesting proposition.


  10. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 12:33 pm:

    ===That’s a very… interesting proposition===

    Are you saying it’s too diverse? lol

    You really are a piece of work.


  11. - Anonanonsir - Monday, Mar 1, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    Welch is freelancing with his own definition of fair maps. Usually it means taking it out of the hands of politicians.

    Welch supposedly supported fair maps when he was an ordinary member, so I wonder what he was saying about it then. Has his definition changed?

    Anyway, it looks like more of the same, just with Madigan and Cullerton out and new Dems drawing the maps.


TrackBack URI

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Governor's office staff member tested positive, had no close contact with Pritzker
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Republicans want to hear Pritzker's remap thoughts while Democrats push back against GOP plans
* An unintended, but likely forseeable consequence of over-cautious policies
* COVID-19 roundup: Lawsuit filed over LaSalle Veterans’ Home death; IDOC resuming in-person visitation; Hotel revenues plunged 80 percent
* Question of the day
* Legislator pay ruling should not be a surprise
* *** UPDATED x1 *** 2,433 new confirmed and probable cases; 18 additional deaths; 1,998 hospitalized; 418 in the ICU; 4.4 percent average case positivity rate; 4.9 percent average test positivity rate; 132,188 average daily doses
* More like this, please
* *** UPDATED x1 *** State Board of Elections calls special meeting to discuss Sandvoss situation
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraising event list
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Big teachers union wins prompt grumbling
* Center Square network gets grant to offer "an alternate perspective to legacy media’s unfair coverage of individuals who disagree with state shutdowns"
* Moody's: New Chicago firefighter pension law is "credit negative"
* Open thread
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............

...............


Loading


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller