* The Center Square…
Next year’s primary in Illinois has been moved to June. Filing doesn’t start until January. Regardless, the Democratic supermajority at the state house is preparing to revise maps that community groups say need more time to review.
Maps determining legislative boundaries for the next ten years have been enacted, but they’re being challenged in federal court. With the final Census data out, the Democratic majority has called a special session.
Before the maps were approved, groups were demanding two weeks to review the drafts and provide input. They didn’t get that. It now appears likely that they’re not going to get that now, as the state is moving to pass revised maps for the Aug. 31 special session.
The first hearing on Thursday featured civic groups demanding more time to review maps.
Ami Gandhi with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights said lawmakers are doing an injustice.
“We’re uncomfortable with this redistricting process, with this huge rush, with this lack of transparency,” Gandhi said. “People are not being assured that their rights are being respected.”
Jay Young with Common Cause said the process resembles the rushed maps in May.
It’s of their own making, of course, but Democrats are now under the gun of a federal judge who essentially paused those lawsuits until after the special session ends. There will be no delays.
* Capitol News Illinois…
The mapmaking process that lawmakers have used is already the subject of two federal lawsuits being heard by a three-judge panel in Chicago. One, filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, argues that the maps lawmakers passed in May dilute the voting power of the state’s Latino population. Another filed by Republican leaders in the General Assembly argues, among other things, that lawmakers failed to enact legal maps by the June 30 deadline set out in the Illinois Constitution and, therefore, should be thrown out and redrawn by a bipartisan legislative commission.
Republicans on the committees, meanwhile, alleged Thursday that Democrats who control the General Assembly have already started drawing new maps behind closed doors and that the public hearings now taking place are only for show.
“I literally witnessed with my own eyes a member of the General Assembly looking at the map, talking to staff about whether it was square enough or not, which is what I overheard,” said Rep. Tim Butler, a Springfield Republican. “There was many members of the majority in that room, looking at the maps. And I would ask you, the people who are going to testify today, have you been invited into those meetings so far to look at the maps? Are you having solid input on what these maps are going to be? No. They’re being drawn by the majority as we saw in the spring with partisan intent.”
Later, when asked what data was being used to draw the new maps, House committee chairwoman Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, said she didn’t know and that she hadn’t seen the maps that Butler was talking about. But she said Democrats were determined to draw new districts that would reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of Illinois.
Nobody knows anything when it comes to maps. Chasing that story involves a whole lot of brick walls. Even so, subscribers know a bit more.
*** UPDATE *** Press release…
Illinois House Redistricting Committee Spokesperson Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) released the following statement after this morning’s abysmal public hearing on redistricting:
“This morning’s House Redistricting Committee hearing was an abuse of a free and fair democratic process. Despite hearing testimony from countless advocacy groups yesterday asking for more time, the House Democrats, who had no members in attendance [in-person], held a hearing with little notice that resulted in NO public attendance in person or even on Zoom. This continued approach from the Illinois Democrats to jam through yet ANOTHER partisan map to retain control over the state is disgusting and offensive to all the residents of our state. Let’s hope that Governor Pritzker will not lie to voters twice and will veto whatever sham map the General Assembly passes next Tuesday.”
The flip side is that everyone who wanted to say something spoke yesterday and citizens aren’t all that riled up about this as much as the commentariat might have us believe.