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Independent Maps Proposal Advances; Governor Indicates Support

  After stumbling on previous attempts to put a constitutional amendment question before voters, the group Independent Maps is hopeful about their measure in 2016.  The citizens' initiative announced it has collected more than enough signatures and that it has revised phrasing that led the courts to toss a question two years ago.   Its backers want to strip legislators from having the authority to draw their own districts. Instead, that'd be the duty of a specially-selected panel.

For years, legislators have rebuffed calls to overhaul the redistricting process.   But this year two other plans are advancing in the General Assembly.  One was shepherded out of a House committee last month by Democratic Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo.  His proposal would also establish a commission to draw districts, but its members would be selected by the Illinois Supreme Court. Franks also says it's preferable because it's more open to the public.

Another plan, sponsored by Chicago Democrat Kwame Raoul, was approved by the Senate. It calls for public hearings, but mostly leaves redistricting to the General Assembly.

It's possible that all three versions could make it on the ballot.

A redistricting overhaul is part of the Turnaround Agenda that Rauner said legislators must agree to before he'll talk about new revenue to balance the budget.

But now that Democrats are moving forward, he's rebuffing their proposals in favor of Independent Maps.. "What we want to do is have one initiative on the ballot," he said Friday. "My personal opinion is the best one is the one that's being advocated by Republicans and Democrats through a voter referendum process."

Democrats' refusal to support Rauner's five-point agenda has led to the historic budget impasse, now beginning its eleventh month.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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