Illinois Senate signs bipartisan ‘fair map’ amendment

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) -- Bipartisan efforts to change how the state draws political boundaries got a booster shot from Illinois Senate Republicans.

State Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, filed a constitutional amendment that would change how the state draws political district maps by forming an independent commission to decide the boundaries.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, called all Senate Republicans together Wednesday to sign on to Morrison’s bill.

“It’s time that Illinois move forward and put the constituents’ and the peoples’ interest ahead of the politicians’ interests,” Brady said. “Sen. Morrison’s amendment does just that. It creates a commission that is not made up of legislators and one that works to the interest of fairness to the people of Illinois.”

After the census every 10 years, political boundaries get redrawn to account for population migration. Illinois’ boundaries have been criticized for years as being politically drawn, leaving many districts with only one choice every election. With this amendment, voters could get a say in changing that come 2020.

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said the measure she and every Republican in the Senate signed on to Wednesday won’t only remove political parties from the process, it will also be open to voters, “giving the public a better understanding of how their districts are being redrawn and why.”

“It would also give the public the chance to participate in the process and go weigh in on the map hearings throughout the state,” Rezin said. “It’s fair and it’s more bipartisan. It’s a way of redrawing districts that takes the politicians out of the process.”

Adding the 19 Republican senators, there are now 30 sponsors. A Republican filed a similar measure in the House, where there are only four Republican sponsors.

If passed by both chambers, the question would be put to voters in the 2020 election.

An attorney connected to House Speaker Michael Madigan successfully blocked a citizen-led effort to get a change in the redistricting process on the ballot several years ago.

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