Chesney Guest Column: Support Fair Maps for lasting Government Reform

With the major topic of a $15/hour minimum wage dominating news cycles this week, I am planning a more extensive column next week on that topic and its effects, however, this is a great time to highlight how bad policies like that can be enacted into law, despite causing so much damage to so much of Illinois.

While we can clearly identify bad policies when we see them in Northwest Illinois, I often have people ask me, “how did we get here?”  One way that the Chicago Machine has continually increased its power and influence over major statewide issues like this to drive the Chicago-centric conversation is through the legislative mapmaking process.  By utilizing this process to their advantage, they have grown their operation over time and control more and more of the dialogue in Springfield.

In partial remedy of this untenable situation, I support a Constitutional Amendment to ensure a non-partisan, transparent process to redraw state legislative and Congressional district maps every 10 years to ensure that communities are fully and fairly represented.

Known as the “Fair Map Amendment”, there are several iterations that have already been filed in the Illinois General Assembly in the leadup to the biennial US Census that will be conducted in 2020, which is a precursor to the legislative redistricting process.  HJRCA 10, of which I am a cosponsor, is one proposal and is supported by the full House Republican Caucus.  Another proposal is HJRCA 15/ SJRCA 4 is a bipartisan bill and is supported by the Full Senate Republican Caucus.  I am a cosponsor of both bills, both efforts.  The reason why I am cosponsoring both is to show my full commitment to enactment of some kind of reform of this process.

I will support these and any other effort to change our redistricting process and hope that we can actually debate, amend, and work these bills to garner the kind of bipartisan support they richly deserve.  Governor JB Pritzker has expressed support for a Fair Maps Amendment and many other Democrat lawmakers have supported these and past efforts.  It is time to put this issue to rest and enact a compromise solution that ensures the kind of government reforms Illinoisans deserve.

The process of allowing politicians to pick their voters instead of voters picking their politicians must end.  Statewide groups including the Illinois Farm Bureau, League of Women Voters of Illinois, NAACP Chicago- South Side Branch, Better Government Association and many other non-partisan and bipartisan groups support Fair Map reforms to our redistricting process.

The time for action on this issue by the legislature is this Spring.  The next General Election on which this question may appear on the ballot is November 2020 with new maps to be enacted in Fall 2021.  We must act now and I promise to work in good faith with any person on either side of the aisle to reform this system and return the power to the people.  Illinoisans deserve nothing less that our best work and effort on this issue.