Illinois Democrats to redraw political maps using census in special one-day session

Politics

CHICAGO — Just three months after Illinois Democrats drew a map favoring their party, comes news that the party will have to tweak it, extending a redistricting that is far from over.

A federal judge has rejected Republican efforts to throw out Democrats’ legislative districts map but warned Democrats of their need to address concerns about undercounted minority populations.   

Last spring, Illinois Democrats, who control the General Assembly and Governor’s mansion, had hoped they were finished redrawing state legislative districts. Instead, in May, they rammed through their proposal on a partisan vote, and in June, Governor JB Pritzker signed the map into law.  But now, Democrats are going to have to try again.

The House and Senate plan to return to Springfield on Aug. 31 for a one-day special session.

“The Democrats have given up their opportunity, in my mind, to be able to draw the maps,” said State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield). “The map that was passed at the end of May, I think, is not valid.”

State House member Tim Butler is the Republicans’ lead redistricting representative. He says Democrats drew the original map behind closed doors with little input from the GOP. As a result, Butler expects the Republican party to be once again shut out of the process.

“No one has reached out to me as the top Republican on the Redistricting committee on the Democratic side to say, ‘Hey do you want to be involved?'” Bulter said.

In the spring, due to delayed census data, Democrats used the American Community Survey. Democrats said they did so to beat a June 30 state constitution deadline.

“So now that the census has been completed, it’s proper for the legislature to take another look,” Butler said. “So they will look. They will follow the law. If they don’t, I won’t be supporting their redistricting map.”

In addition to the statehouse map, the legislature must also take up redrawing Congressional districts.

As a result, Illinois is losing one of its 18 seats.

There is speculation Democrats will erase either the 16th district held by Republican Adam Kinzinger or the 13th represented by Republican Rodney Davis. Both men are potential candidates for governor.

The House Speaker office says they won’t do the congressional map next week. Instead, the focus will be on changes to the legislative districts.

“If past is prologue, we’re going to see a map on Monday and then have a committee hearing Tuesday morning and they’ll probably kick it out of committee for a floor vote Tuesday afternoon,” Butler said.

Lawmakers are holding five public hearings before next week’s special session. Rather than the Democratic-controlled General Assembly drawing the maps, there’s a push for a bipartisan commission. And the map remains the subject of several lawsuits.

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