State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, sponsored the
legislation and worked alongside State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago,
in attempts to get the state constitutional amendment passed and on
the November ballot, but the amendment fell short of the 71 votes
During the floor debate, several lawmakers made their case
as to why they were for or against the amendment. Some Republican
representatives said the Democratic redistricting plan, which would
allow some lawmakers to have a say in the redrawing of district maps
and also take into account minority populations, is not reform and
just a way for lawmakers to draw maps to their own advantage.
The deadline for getting constitutional amendments on the
November ballot is this weekend.
State Rep. Jim Watson, R- Jacksonville, said Democrats waited
until the last minute so there could be no more changes to the
"I would say this," Watson said. "It's very inconvenient that the
people that brought this bill decided to do it right at the point
when it could not be extended any further."
State Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, agreed with Watson and said
the constitutional amendment is not reform for the state.
"What a way to do the public's business," Black said. "We talk
about reform. Every one of us (lawmakers) should be ashamed of what
we are doing here today and what we've done all year."
Republicans have advocated for the Fair Map Amendment, a citizen
initiative that would allow a nine-person committee containing no
lawmakers to draw the map. However, the four party leaders would
choose eight of the nine members, and Democrats have said that
aspect to the amendment would be too biased.
Currie said she would rather see redistricting left up to
lawmakers and not just the four leaders who appoint a committee.
"I would have thought, in fact, that leaving the decision in the
hands of 177 people who are elected by the geographic diversity that
is the state of Illinois is more democratic than giving it instead
to the hands of four legislative leaders," Currie said.
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State Rep. Will Burns voted in favor of the
Democrats' plan and said it takes into account the rights of
minority groups in Illinois.
"There is no more important right to people of color than the
ability to elect the representatives of their choice," Burns said.
"For people that for too many years were denied the right to vote,
or, when they had the right to vote, their right to vote was
subverted, … redistricting is very important."
Gov. Pat Quinn said he does not think the Democrats' plan is
reform and did not want to see it pass.
"I'm not excited about (the plan)," Quinn said. "It's awfully
complicated. I'm not sure it's a reform or not, to be honest."
Now that the Democratic plan failed in the House, the
redistricting process in the state will most likely stay the same.
The Fair Map Amendment will most likely fall short in getting the
enough signatures to be placed on November's ballot, Pam Czarnik of
the League of Women Voters said.
Statehouse News; By ASHLEY BADGLEY]