Gerrymandering gives way to unfair party control, according to Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria)
At Wednesday’s Fair Maps Amendment Press Conference, showing bipartisan support, Spain and Sens. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) and Laura Murphy (D-Elk Grove Village) told the public that House Constitutional Amendment 43 and Senate Constitutional Amendment 26, to be presented later in the afternoon, are modeled after legislation successfully passed in the House two years ago.
“Former Rep. Jack Franks had a bill two years ago, almost to the date, that passed the House with 105 yes votes, and the idea was that we can make these changes as a legislature to put this item on the ballot,” Spain said.
Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria)
Fair maps should assure competitive elections and expand minority representation, according to Change Illinois Vice Chairman Brad McMillan.
“We urge today that a vote be allowed in the House and the Senate on the Fair Maps Amendment,” McMillian said, noting both chambers must pass the amendment by a three-fifths majority to get the matter on the ballot.
But time is of the essence, Spain said.
“The 2020 census is looming and it will soon be here,” Spain said. “We have important decisions to make and urgency to do it.”
The deadline to submit the question for the ballot is May 6.
Years in the making, Spain said he remembers when his John Hancock was one of 600,000 signatures on the statewide-petition to get the measure on the ballot when it passed through Illinois two years ago.
“You can see with that number of people what a groundswell of support this issue has,” Spain said.
As the chief co-sponsor for the Senate, Murphy said her support of the bill is based on the name of the amendment—fairness.
Representative Democracy only works when people participate, according to the senator, who said lawmakers know they have lost the public’s confidence in government throughout the U.S.
“But here in Illinois, this can be our first step to helping regain that,” Murphy added.
Though the Supreme Court voted down redistricting, Spain said the General Assembly can alter that by putting the issue on the November 2018 ballot, so voters can elect their politicians and not the other way around.
Taking the microphone, Morrison said the diverse coalition spoke volumes.
She was right.
Andy Kane, legal director of Asian American’s Advancing Justice Chicago, said there are almost 1 million Asian Americans in the state and they continue to be the fastest growing group in Illinois, largely due to immigration. He said he became a partner to assure not just Asian Americans, but all communities of color are fairly represented in the state redistricting maps. Morrison agreed.
“As my colleague in the House said, politicians do not belong as part of this process,” Morrison said.
Spain urged public support of the amendments.
“It is high time in Illinois that we change the way we draw our legislative districts and encourage and give incentive for more bipartisan cooperation, so we can work better as a state,” Spain said.