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Illinois representatives continue redistricting battle

Ryan Spain

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - House Republican leaders say Democrats are blocking the opportunity for Illinois to have "fair maps," an idea most lawmakers campaign on.

Democratic leaders plan to use data from the American Community Survey to create legislative and Congressional maps by June 30. However, Republicans say the data is incomplete and won't include everyone counted in the 2020 census. The state won't receive that critical data until the middle of August or early September. 

Rep. Ryan Spain says Democrats shouldn't push the maps through a "sham process."

The Peoria Republican explained witnesses continue to urge lawmakers to move to an independent commission. Spain stressed that his Democratic colleagues should support the plan voters truly want.

"It's not the perfect option," Spain admitted. "But, it's infinitely better than allowing incumbent partisans in control of the legislature to pick their own voters again and again and again. We wonder why Illinois is in the shape it is in. That's the definition of hypocrisy to me."

Hernandez: "Republicans are dismissing the public's input"

Democratic leaders continue to say both chambers are hosting public hearings across the state to hear what people want for their community. House Redistricting Chair Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) says her committee has already held 27 hearings.

"Republicans are choosing to dismiss the public’s input because their only goal is to rig the process for their own political benefit – just like their right-wing allies are doing across the country with no regard to public input. In fact, the top Republican on the Redistricting Committee is on record saying his criteria for a fair map is one that elects more Republicans," Hernandez stated.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said the high hopes of change earlier this year with the election of House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch are now gone. Durkin said Democrats have reverted back to the business model that led Illinois into peril. He also emphasized that the same business style led to the massive public corruption scandal with Commonwealth Edison. Durkin says it's time to take the pen away from lawmakers.

"Today is to remind Democrats and Illinois citizens that they have a responsibility," Durkin said. "They have a great responsibility as being in control in both chambers. They need to live up to their past. Don't fool the public anymore."

Republicans introduced a proposal last month for an independent redistricting commission. However, that bill hasn't received any Democratic support. Republican sponsors argue the proposal used identical language from a bill with bipartisan support last year.

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Mike Miletich

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