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Steans presents redistricting reform amendment

steans 050416SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) has introduced in the Senate a proposed constitutional amendment, approved yesterday with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, to reform the way Illinois’ legislative district boundaries are drawn. The resolution, which would have allowed voters to decide this November whether or not to incorporate these changes into the state constitution, failed today to garner sufficient support in a subcommittee to advance to the Senate floor.

Steans issued the following statement:

From the outsized role of money in politics to the arcane way in which districts are drawn, the political system as it now exists often invites cynicism and apathy while discouraging new voices with fresh ideas from getting involved.

Diminishing the influence of elected officials in drawing their own districts is a key component in restoring citizens’ trust in their government.

Today, I presented a plan that had passed in the House by a wide margin and with bipartisan support. This proposal, which if passed by both chambers would have gone to the voters for approval on the general election ballot, directs the two most senior Illinois Supreme Court justices affiliated with the two major parties to select members of an independent commission that would draw new legislative maps after each census. It requires the commission to reflect the racial, ethnic, gender and geographic diversity of the state, and it sets out priorities the commissioners must take into account – including providing racial and language minorities with an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice.

I am disappointed that as a result of today’s vote (and the May 7 cut-off to place constitutional amendments on the 2016 ballot), the General Assembly will not offer the voters of Illinois a better way – a procedure by which, as President Obama urged when he was in Springfield this year, constituents can choose their representatives and not the other way around. I continue to endorse efforts to reform redistricting and bolster popular trust in government.
 

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