ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — Some advocates are pushing for an Illinois constitutional amendment to change how legislative districts are created in the state.
Redistricting advocates have asked lawmakers to consider their proposed Fair Maps Amendment that would form a 16-member independent commission to draw new districts, the Daily Herald reported . The commission would consist of seven Democrats, seven Republicans and two independents chosen by the state Supreme Court.
The U.S. Constitution requires legislative and congressional boundaries to be redrawn every decade. The process in Illinois is dictated by the party in power, which some critics have said allows parties to manipulate boundaries to remain in control.
"One of our challenges is to help people understand how important this is," said Madeleine Doubek, policy and civic engagement director for the Better Government Association. "When districts are gerrymandered, that's where corruption is born."
The proposed legislation is sponsored by Republican Rep. Ryan Spain of Peoria and two Democratic senators, Julie Morrison of Deerfield and Heather Steans of Chicago. Supporters are working to get the issue on the November ballot.
Other redistricting petitions failed to make the ballot in 2014 and 2016.
"This is definitely going to be an uphill battle," said Jeff Raines, communications and engagement director for CHANGE Illinois, the group leading the Illinois Redistricting Collaborative.
But supporters are optimistic because the new bill is modeled after a 2016 bill that was approved by the state House, he said.
The bill calls for at least 30 public hearings before approving new maps. The commission would also be subject to public records requests, including all communications and data used to create the maps.
New legislative maps will be drawn in 2021 following the 2020 census.