Though delegates did not expect legislative leaders to allow their livelihood to come down to a coin flip, Netsch commented that the drafters misunderstood the political backbone and gambling nature of politicians. She also indicated that it was her belief that Illinois’ redistricting system is “broken” and that there is a need for reform, recommending Illinois devise a fair process that allows independent input, provides equality and produces a fair map that will restore voter confidence in their state leaders.
PROFESSOR: PROCESS IS ‘TARNISHED’
Professor Paul Green of Roosevelt University expressed similar criticisms of the current process used to draw legislative district maps in Illinois, saying that the process is “tarnished,” and noting that a tarnished process cannot produce an untarnished product. Similarly, when asked to rank how well Illinois draws its maps, Green gave Illinois a “four or five” out of a scale of one to ten. The Professor, like many other legislative experts, agreed that Illinois must do a better job of removing politics from the redistricting process.
NON-POLITICAL ENTITY SHOULD DRAW MAPS
Several bills have advanced that would make much-needed changes to Illinois’ redistricting process. Despite differences between the plans, most call for an autonomous, non-political entity to draw the district boundaries using computer technology to remove politics from the process. Numerous states – including Arizona, Hawaii and New Jersey – have independent, non-partisan commissions determine the new borders. Illinois, however, is among the states that give politicians the power to redraw the map.
Critics charge the current system allows partisan considerations to come into play when districts are drawn. Senator pointed to one state legislative district, which is 110 miles long – running from the Metropolitan St. Louis area to Central Illinois – and only eight miles wide at its narrowest.
MORE COMMITEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED
The Committee is expected to continue meeting in several other Illinois communities, including Peoria on August 19, Carbondale on September 16 and Springfield on October 14.
NEW LAWS HELP VETERANS
Also during the week, the Governor signed several measures of interest to Illinois veterans and their families.
SB 2046 (PA 96-0101) allows employers to give qualified veterans a tax credit of up to $1,200.
SB 206 (PA 96-0096) creates a Task Force to determine what would be an appropriate percentage goal for the state to award contracts to disabled veterans.
HB 1122 (PA 96-0085) creates the Illinois Jobs for Veterans Task Force to determine if military training received by veterans could satisfy any state professional licensure requirements.
HB 849 (PA 96-0083) allows members of the National Guard and Army Reserves to count time in training or service school attendance towards municipal veterans’ preference points, if they have been deployed.
HB 3787 (PA 96-0089) establishes that when a school bus driver who is a member of the Armed Forces is called to active duty, the Secretary of State must list the permit as inactive until the permit is renewed.
In addition, the Governor recently signed Senate Bill 1461 (PA 96-0076), which gives $100 to Illinois veterans who served on active duty in the Iraq and Afghan wars.