Veterans were also able to consult with a Federal VA Benefits Specialist and meet with representatives from statewide, legislative and Congressional offices. Free health screenings were available, as were informational exhibits by Central Illinois Honor Flight, Illinois Military History Museum, and Korean War Veterans’ Museum.
DEMOCRAT LEADERS STIFLE REDISTRICTING REFORM
It has become increasingly clear that despite the best efforts of good government groups and Republican lawmakers, redistricting reform in Illinois is unlikely to advance in 2010.
Over the past year, redistricting reform has been the subject of a number of hearings across the state by a Senate panel. At those hearings, a consistent demand from witnesses, experts and reform groups was that the process of drawing legislative districts should be handed over to a non-partisan, independent body.
On April 29, Republican House of Representative members stood with a broad coalition of government reform groups and most editorial writers in the state in opposition to SJRCA 121. The measure, which had been previously pushed out of the Senate on a straight partisan roll call, was flawed because it continued to allow politicians to draw their own districts and essentially pick their own voters. They were joined by one Democrat House member in rejecting the proposal.
Republican lawmakers have embraced the non-partisan recommendation and support a plan drafted by the League of Women Voters of Illinois and supported by a broad coalition of reform organizations. Members of Governor Pat Quinn’s Illinois Reform Commission were also onboard with the League’s proposal.
Earlier in the week, the House Democrats rejected the bipartisan reform plan that would have turned the drawing of legislative districts over to an independent commission. Then later on April 29, the proponents of an independent petition drive supporting the bipartisan redistricting plan acknowledged they would be unable to reach the state’s requirements for getting their proposal on the ballot.
With SJRCA 121 failing to pass the General Assembly, repeated dismissal of bipartisan reform plans by the Democrat majorities, and the independent petition drive falling short of getting its proposal on the ballot, it appears redistricting reform may have been stymied in 2010.
NO PORTRAIT FOR IMPEACHED GOVERNORS
Also passing the Senate this week, House Bill 5109 bans the use of State funds to create a portrait or other image of any person who was removed from the office of Governor by impeachment and conviction.
Though controversial, after former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment and removal, many lawmakers believe that the state should not be responsible for financing the official portrait of any governor who is forced to leave his or position, either by impeachment or conviction.
The bill does not ban a portrait from being displayed in the Capitol altogether; the state simply wouldn’t finance the portrait. The cost of an official portrait is estimated at $25,000. It will be left for a private entity to finance Blagojevich’s portrait, if Governor Quinn signs the bill.