Democrats revise legislative map proposal days before adjournment
Illinois Democratic leaders released a revised version of proposed House and Senate legislative maps Thursday night, saying they made changes based on public input they received during hearings this week and to address criticism that Republican incumbents would be forced to run against one another.
"The changes we made not only reflect testimony provided the last couple of days from members of the public, but also include revisions to address concerns raised by Republicans," said House redistricting Chair Lisa Hernandez, a Democrat from Chicago.
The initial map proposal was made public last Friday night, just 10 days before the legislature's scheduled May 31 adjournment.
Democrats say their changes also respond to concerns of the Orthodox Jewish community and the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago.
Republicans were not buying it, however. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs called the maps "dishonest."
"The House Democrats turned their back on Illinoisans and every advocacy group who has an interest in honest government," Durkin said in a statement. "Despite the flowery rhetoric about these changes, the Illinois House Democrats allowed their members to draw their own legislative districts with phony data."
Democrats used the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Service data from a 2019 estimate. They used this data because the 10-year census data normally used to draw legislative districts is delayed until August. The Illinois Constitution spells out a June 30 deadline for the General Assembly to vote on a map.
Witnesses who testified in the public hearings this week asked Democrats to wait for the full census data to be released and said Democrats should seek court relief from the June 30 deadline. If the June 30 deadline were missed with no relief granted by a court, sole control of the would leave the hands of Democrats and instead would be handled by a bipartisan commission of four Democrats and four Republicans.
House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch has introduced 10 bills on redistricting that have virtually no content. All were scheduled for second readings on Thursday.
Such shell bills can be amended at the last minute, potentially allowing a quick vote on new maps by bypassing rules requiring three readings.