Monday, March 1, 2010

Executive Director's Report

By Bill Fleming

Illinois Fair Map Amendment
The Illinois Constitution provides that in the year after each decennial census, the General Assembly is to redistrict the Legislative (Senate) and Representative Districts. Each district must be “compact, contiguous, and substantially equal in population.” The purpose is to rebalance population in the districts based on census results.

Some people believe this redistricting process is one of the causes of Illinois’ governmental dysfunction. Common complaints about the process include:
  • A lack of competitive elections – the current system puts incumbents in an excessively strong position. Of the 630 general election races for the general assembly under the current map, 45% were completely uncontested, only 4% were competitive and incumbents have a winning percentage of 98%.
  • Partisan “Winner Takes All Process” – By failing to adequately insulate the process from party political control, the current system unfairly rewards one party with a “winner takes all” outcome.
  • Under Control of Legislative Leaders - The current process further increases the control of the legislative leaders. They are the ones that draw the maps to be voted upon by the legislature and the ones that appoint the members of the Commission. With control of mapping decisions, leaders possess a powerful tool to help or hinder the re-election prospects of incumbent legislators.

The Illinois Fair Map Amendment would address these and other concerns. If approved, the new process would ensure an independent commission draws the map. The new process would require a 2/3rd majority approval by the legislature, ensuring bi-partisan support. The amendment would remove the governor from the process and increase public transparency. It would also require the commission to use neutral criteria that removes political considerations when drawing the boundaries of the new map.

The Illinois Fair Map Amendment has drawn the support of a diverse group of independent organizations, including: League of Women Voters; Better Government Association; Patrick Collins, Brad McMillan, Shelia Simon, David Hoffman & Duane Noland former members of the Illinois Reform Commission; IL Campaign for Political Reform; Common Cause – Illinois; Illinois Chamber of Commerce; Americans for Prosperity; Illinois Alliance for Growth; United Power for Action and Justice

The Board of Directors of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce believes that, as currently designed, Illinois’ redistricting process is inherently unfair, overly partisan, and not in the best interests of the business community or the public good in general. It should be replaced through a Constitutional Amendment with a system that meets the current Constitutional criteria, but is also:

  • More independent of the legislature and Governor
  • Less partisan
  • Does not take into account incumbency or voting habits of the populace
  • Complies with federal laws on voting

The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors believes that the Illinois Fair Map Amendment strives to improve Illinois’ system and meets the objectives above. The board encourages chamber members to learn more about the Illinois Fair Map Amendment and sign the petitions that are being circulated. The petitions are needed in order to place this citizen initiative on the November ballot.

You can learn more about the Illinois Fair Map Amendment at: www.ilfairmap.com

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