State Representatives Tim Butler (R-Springfield), Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) and Jackie Haas (R-Kankakee) held a press conference this afternoon to propose legislation creating an Independent Redistricting Commission and called for action during the upcoming Lame Duck Session.
“The most basic protection against gerrymandering, and the partisan corruption it fosters, is to have a process in place to ensure all citizens are fairly represented,” said Rep. Butler. “Establishing an independent commission, removed from partisan politics and subject to public scrutiny is not only logical, but it is overwhelmingly supported by the public. Nearly 600,000 Illinoisans supported an independent commission ballot initiative in 2016. Although Illinoisans were not given the chance to vote for it, there is no reason we can’t create the commission through legislative statute instead. We can act during the coming Lame Duck Session, and the Governor can prove he was serious about his pledge to support fairly drawn maps by calling on both sides of the aisle to act now.”
The legislation, which is substantially similar to the 2016 ballot initiate and HJRCA 10 proposed in 2019, would create the Independent Redistricting Commission, comprised of 11 members, charged with proposing a legislative map. The commission would be required to hold public hearings both before and after releasing their proposed plan. The legislative map would need to receive the favorable vote of at least seven commissioners, including two from each political party whose candidate for Governor received the most and second-most votes, and two commissioners not affiliated with either political party.
“As Speaker Madigan holds up the corrupt process by which he draws the maps as a token to negotiate away to whatever caucus gives him the most votes for his re-election as Speaker, there is nothing more pressing or urgent we can do in this Lame Duck Session but protect honest taxpayers from this auction of dishonest government services,” said Rep. Ryan Spain, who has thrice before sponsored legislation aimed at enacting Fair Maps. “This tool of corruption must be removed from Madigan’s toolbox. Governor Pritzker promised voters he would not let Madigan abuse this tool and Pritzker committed to supporting a fair map. We expect the Governor to hold to that promise and join us in urging legislators to send this legislation to his desk to enact it.”
State Representative Jackie Haas, who was recently elected to represent the 79th House District, noted how the current gerrymandering of districts breeds corruption and disenfranchises residents: “The last two years have seen Illinois politicians embroiled in investigations which have led to indictments. We must begin the process to regain the trust of the people of Illinois. The current, corrupt process allows Madigan to draw districts to give him a decade-long majority and cement his role as Speaker. This does not regain trust. This does not allow the people’s voice to be heard in their government,” Rep. Haas stated. “Politicians should no longer draw their districts as it has been a tool of corruption. Governor Pritzker has promised to support Fair Maps – a process two-thirds of Illinoisans support. He should honor that promise he made to millions of Illinoisans and only sign legislation that includes Fair Maps.”
In his 2018 gubernatorial candidate questionnaire in the Northwest Herald then candidate Pritzker stated, “…and I support ending the gerrymandering of districts to encourage more competitive elections.”
The Governor again reiterated this position after his 2020 State of the State Address by promising to “veto any unfair map that gets presented to me.”