Illinois legislators returned from their two-week spring break on
Monday to take on a slew of proposed constitutional amendments. A
usual legislative session sees only a handful of proposals to change
the state's constitution, but this year 17 are being considered.
But only one will see the partial light of day following action in a
Amendments ranging from legislative term limits to judicial
requirements were discussed and voted on, but only one passed out of
The sole amendment to pass muster sets judicial minimum
requirements for years practiced as an attorney. Individuals must be
a licensed attorney for a minimum of 10 years to be eligible to
serve as a circuit judge, 12 years for an appellate judge and 15
years for a state Supreme Court judge.
The measure now goes before a
full Senate committee, where approval would take it to the full
Senate. If both the full Senate and House pass the amendment with a
three-fifths vote, the initiative would then be placed on the
Only three constitutional amendments can be put on the November
State Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Dixon, said he believes most of the
proposals were worthy of consideration.
"I think that any of these that help government work better, that
make government work better, I'm all for it," Bivins said. "Many of
these (proposed amendments) do that."
However, Bivins said there is "speculation" that many of the
constitutional amendments were brought forward to squash the Free
Map Amendment, which would allow a group of citizens to set
legislative district lines across the state.
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Legislative boundaries are redrawn every 10 years following the
federal census, and the current remapping process favors the
political party in control of the legislature. The Free Map
Amendment is a citizen initiative that requires a certain number of
signed petitions to get on the ballot.
However, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, said her
fellow committee members did a good job of sorting through the wheat
and chaff among the proposals, and she didn't know if the numerous
initiatives were intended to push out the Fair Map Amendment.
"We did a pretty good job today on not considering some of the
constitutional amendments that were brought up," Lightford said.
Lightford voted no on the amendment calling for legislative term
limits, saying it wouldn't allow for growth.
"I voted no on term limits," Lightford said. "I just strongly
feel that it takes time ... to develop and to grow and to be a true
leader representing your constituents."
Statehouse News; By ASHLEY BADGLEY]