Franks' plan would take lawmakers out of remap process

  • Jack Franks

    Jack Franks

 
 
Updated 4/18/2016 9:07 PM

A plan to draw some of Illinois' political boundaries differently and therefore possibly alter future races for seats at the state Capitol is being advanced by lawmakers.

The proposal from state Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, is asking lawmakers to take themselves out of the process that draws the borders of the districts from which they're elected.

 

Instead of lawmakers and a governor redrawing the map after every census, the Illinois Supreme Court would appoint a bipartisan panel to do it.

"There's no involvement from the General Assembly and the governor," Franks said.

The idea could have serious consequences in Illinois. Democrats controlled the state House, Senate and governor's office after the 2010 census and used that power to draw a map on their own. The party has enjoyed large majorities at the Capitol since.

Franks' plan, though, comes at a time when an independent group also is working on its own to gather enough petition signatures -- about 600,000 -- to get a similar proposal on the ballot.

Both are amendments to the Illinois Constitution and would have to be approved by voters in November.

The amendment being pushed by the Independent Maps group is slightly different from Franks' but also seeks an independently drawn map.

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A spokesman for the group, Jim Bray, says that effort will continue "full-speed ahead" despite lawmakers' efforts.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked for redistricting changes as part of his so-called Turnaround Agenda before he'd consider raising taxes.

Both Franks' plan and the independent effort face some barriers to get to the November ballot.

Lawmakers face a deadline early next month to approve amendments to the state constitution, and they're set to be away from Springfield next week.

The deadline to get on the ballot applies to Franks' plan and any other amendments to the state constitution, such as proposals to eliminate Illinois' lieutenant governor's office and put a greater emphasis on school funding.

The redistricting proposal was approved by a House committee Monday with both Republican and Democratic support.

And the direct-to-ballot push was quashed by a court ruling in 2014, though the group says it's made changes this time to make it more likely to hold up.

What happens if both are put on the ballot?

Franks was asked that question at Monday's hearing and said he'd "defer to counsel."

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