redistricting

WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants the legislature's help in making two big changes to the state's constitution, but the Illinois House Speaker isn't on board. It's one of various causes of gridlock at the state capitol.

News Analysis - “In the Spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,” wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1835.

Today, though, chances are a lot of young men and women and folks of all ages are caught up in more than romance, as April brings with it municipal elections across Illinois and a cornucopia of sports highlights, including NBA and NHL playoffs and the start of the 2015 baseball season.

WSIU

Brian Gaines has watched Illinois politics for 20 years.  The political scientist is with the University of Illinois's Institute for Government and Public Affairs. He says the current system of drawing legislative and congressional maps is bad and he hopes reformers can do something before the next re-map in 2020.

Gaines says there is too little transparency and too few people are involved.  The current map for Illinois' congressional district he says was created to help Democrats.   He says the public is not well served by maps that engineer outcomes. 

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Advocates seeking to change how Illinois draws its legislative districts are following through on a promise to keep trying, even after getting knocked off of this year's ballot.

Members of the "Yes for Independent Maps" effort cheered when they turned in half million signatures to state elections authorities in May.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

  An effort to institute term limits in Illinois has hit a major road block. The state Supreme Court says it will not rush to hear the case.

 The Supreme Court's decision could be the end of Republican Bruce Rauner's term limits initiative.

Limiting how long legislators can be in Illinois' General Assembly has been a staple of his campaign for governor.

That takes a change in the constitution. Rauner's group collected over a half million signatures so that question could be put to voters on the November ballot.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

An effort to change how legislative districts are drawn has suspended its efforts. It follows a judge Friday ruling that the proposal is unconstitutional.

"Yes! For Independent Maps," as the redistricting coalition calls itself, is not done for good.

Spokesman Jim Bray says the group will stay together in hopes of maybe trying again in the future. But he says it's done this year's efforts.

flickr/Brian Turner

A Cook County judge has ruled that signature-driven ballot measures calling for legislative term limits and a new political redistricting process can't appear on the November ballot.
 
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva says in a Friday ruling the measures don't meet constitutional requirements to make the ballot.
 
The ruling is a setback for groups advocating the measures, including one led by Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner.  He's made term limits
a cornerstone of his campaign to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
 

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Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Citizen initiatives on redistricting and term limits are facing challenges on their way toward inclusion on the November ballot.  Governor Quinn signs legislation undoing cuts to the Medicaid program.  Also, Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam loses his bid to join the House leadership team in Washington D.C.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The decision of whether two November ballot measures dealing with term limits and redistricting are constitutional is in the hands of a Cook
County judge.
 
Oral arguments were Wednesday in a lawsuit attempting to keep both measures off
the ballot.
 
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva says she'll issue a written decision by noon on June 27.
 
Mikva has said she wants to expedite a ruling because it will affect the November election. Ballots are certified in August.
 

Amanda Vinicky

A struggling effort to change how Illinois draws its legislative districts will live another day. State election authorities Tuesday (6/17) voted to give it some extra time to prove it deserves to make it on the November ballot.

Supporters were joyous last month when a semi-truck pulled into the state board of elections' parking lot in Springfield.

A campaign to overhaul the state's redistricting process was dropping off a 27-foot-long document, filled with a half million signatures.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Even as a lawsuit could nullify them, the state board of elections has begun a tedious — but necessary — task of preparing a pair of proposed constitutional amendments for the November ballot. The two citizen initiatives aim to strip lawmakers of the power to draw their own maps and to limit their terms in office.

A dozen-or-so workers sit at tables at the board of elections building in Springfield.

Sliding, one at a time, more than 105,000 pieces of paper through scanners," said Rupert Borgsmiller, director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Listen To State Week - May 2, 2014

May 2, 2014
State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

  The panel discusses several investigations into Governor Pat Quinn's administration and allegations of corruption, also a couple ballot initiatives - one on term limits and another regarding redistricting.

Amanda Vinicky

  State elections authorities are beginning to go through 37,535 sheets of paper, filled with voters' signatures. An organization trying to change how Illinois draws legislative districts dropped off the monster petition Thursday in Springfield.

The petition made its way from Chicago to Springfield in a custom-made metal box, strapped down in a semi; it took more than a dozen workers and volunteers to carefully unload it.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  A lawsuit seeking to keep two citizen's initiatives from ever coming before voters has been filed. Although the case makes no mention of how it will affect minority voters' rights, sources say organizers took pains to reach out to ethnic groups.

Two potential constitutional changes are at issue: one limiting how long legislators can be in office, the other stripping them of the power to draw their own districts.

The suit challenging them was filed by Mike Kasper, an attorney closely aligned with House Speaker Mike Madigan; the powerful Democrat is against both plans.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

  Illinois'  General Assembly is heading into its final stretch.  They've got a lot to resolve before their scheduled adjournment at the end of this month, including what to do about Illinois' income tax rate.  It's scheduled to drop midway through the next fiscal year, but Democrats,  including Senate President John Cullerton, want to make the current, higher rate permanent.  WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky spoke with Cullerton about it earlier this week, and about why, despite the financial fights ahead, he's proud of the state. 

Madigan Vs. The Maps

Apr 24, 2014
Speaker Michael Madigan
Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

House Speaker Michael Madigan is harshly criticizing of a plan that would strip him of control over how Illinois draws its legislative maps. The group backing the change has its own harsh words for Madigan.

How legislative districts are drawn sounds wonky. And it is. But it's also really important as boundaries of a district can help determine which party will win a seat.

Because they control the General Assembly and governor's office, Democrats have largely gotten to control the map-making process in Illinois, including the most recent map, drawn in 2011.

A group that wants to change the way Illinois draws its political districts says it has the signatures it needs to put a measure on the November ballot.
 
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reports (http://bit.ly/1pPeAGA) that
the group Yes! For Independent Maps announced Tuesday that it has nearly 350,000
signatures. The group needs nearly 300,000 signatures for voters to consider
their plan.
 
That plan would amend the Illinois constitution to require state legislative

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Now that the election is over, several movements advocating for major changes in the state are gaining momentum. Same-sex marriage

After three states approved same-sex marriage in November’s general election, gay rights advocates in Illinois say it may be the right time to pass a bill legalizing same sex marriage in the state.

Few Illinois campaign watchers — including Republicans — dispute the conventional political wisdom that the GOP could have a tough election year in 2012 because of new political maps. 

When GOP state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington lost his race for governor in 2010, Republicans knew they had tough years ahead. Brady’s loss meant Democrats — who already controlled the state House and Senate — won exclusive control of mapmaking powers for legislative districts. And despite their objections and lawsuits, the GOP didn’t expect to be shown much mercy. 

They weren’t.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s as certain as the sunrise that every 10 years, both parties in the Illinois General Assembly will use every tool at their disposal to try to gain any advantage in scribing new district maps for state lawmakers and U.S. representatives.

This year, for the first time since the 1970 Constitution was enacted, Democrats can single-handedly chart the political waters for the next 10 years because they control the Illinois House, Senate and governor’s office.

Legislative redistricting is the most important political process that most people know the least about. This insider’s game of political baseball provokes intense anxiety from politicians, high-pitched indignation from reformers and yawns from most voters. But as this year’s cycle of redistricting approaches, it is a good time to reflect on its profound effect on the fortunes of politicians and political parties, its potential impact on public policy and the possibility for reform.

Brad McMillan, executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University, explains Illinois’ oddly shaped districts during a Statehouse news conference last spring.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois General Assembly has one year and seven months to meet a constitutional deadline it has failed to meet each of the past three decades. But in 2011, the process of redistricting — redrawing the state’s congressional and legislative maps — could be different.

Headlines leading up to the 2011 redistricting process are likely to be that Illinois is expected to lose at least one congressional seat next year, maybe even two if not all residents are counted. But other changes will affect the way Illinois settles on a new map.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The game had just begun. Secretary of State Jesse White reached into a stovepipe hat, a replica of one worn by Abraham Lincoln, and pulled out Michael Bilandic’s name, giving the Democrats an upper hand in shaping the boundaries of the state’s senator-ial and representative districts for the next 10 years.

Democrats, who gained a fifth member on the special commission convened to redraw those districts, cheered. Republicans, left with four members, solemnly made their way out the doors of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

As Chicago moves through its largest building boom since the Great Fire of 1871, developers, planners and longtime residents have been trying to maneuver around a zoning code last revised in 1957.
Jon Randolph

For more than seven years, the Rev. Liala Beukema watched as Lakeview, a gentrifying neighborhood north of Chicago's Loop, steadily changed. Large parcels designated for industrial use became vacant lots, and developers, with an eye to the next upscale townhouse or condominium development, swooped in to push zoning modifications through the City Council.

"This trend was really eliminating a lot of potential for economic and job development in this area," says Beukema, a former pastor who now works for the Logan Square

Southern Illinois powerhouse Paul Powell is speaking from the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives. Fellow southern Illinoisan Clyde Choate is seated beside him. In the background between them is John P.
Illinois Historical Library

As the 1975 legislative session dawned, Clyde Choate of Anna had wheeled, dealed and served with distinction in the Illinois House for 28 years and the speakership was approaching his grasp.

Minority leader in 1974 when the Watergate backlash swept Democrats everywhere into power, Choate was poised to capture the post held for three terms by a fellow Democrat and southern Illinois giant, the legendary Paul Powell.

Nobody in the Statehouse could know it was the end of an era.

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Race can't be the primary consideration in redrawing political districts. Geographically compact minority communities large enough to elect representatives of their choosing may be entitled to their own districts. And only voting-age residents who are American citizens should be counted.

With an eye toward drawing new General Assembly boundaries for the next decade, legislative mapmakers are set this month to begin poring over detailed information about who lives where in Illinois.

Even as they begin, though, there are ongoing complaints about the accuracy of the U.S. Census Bureau's numbers, in particular that the nose count missed large numbers of the urban poor, minorities, or both. This concern is more than academic. In fact, at heart it's political. The legislative power that follows population under the rule of one person, one vote is at stake.

Politicians and their aides are rolling up their sleeves and huddling around computers. Remap gets underway in earnest this month as the U.S. Census Bureau releases, state by state, necessary population data.

Better put on the coffee, though. This could take awhile. And it won't be easy.

The end-of-session newsletters dropped in mailboxes will brag about new money for local schools. Press conferences at the Statehouse will feature rhetoric about election reform. Guest columns sent to hometown weeklies will decry high energy prices, at least while the weather remains cold.

None of that matters to politicians as much as redistricting.

Wm. S. Collins

Picture Republican Senate President James "Pate" Philip and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan setting aside their partisan rivalry in the Statehouse just long enough to settle what promises to be the spring session's most divisive issue: drawing new legislative districts.

As a matter of fact, they did chat recently about the upcoming remap. They even agreed on how awful the process is. But that's where the goodwill seemed to end - along with any chances for a peaceful spring.

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