Illinois Farm Bureau and other members of the Illinois Redistricting Collaborative support legislative passage of a joint resolution to amend the state constitution and create an independent redistricting coalition. The coalition’s goal is to put the matter before voters on the November ballot.
The proposed amendment would change the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn in Illinois.
“Illinois Farm Bureau has long been a part of efforts to bring about redistricting reform to ensure citizens are represented fairly,” said IFB Vice President Brian Duncan of Polo.
The coalition and IFB support passage of HJRCA 43, sponsored by state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria. The resolution proposes creation of a 16-member independent redistricting commission. The legislation provides deadlines and procedures for redistricting legislative districts following censuses that occur every 10 years.
“I believe redistricting reform is one of the most important things we can do in Illinois and get the government back on track,” Spain said. “We have politicians selecting the voters and not the other way around.”
To be placed on the November ballot, the resolution must receive support from supermajorities in each chamber, and that must happen by May 6, six months before the general election, explained Kevin Semlow, IFB director of state legislation. The coalition needs 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House to place the measure on the ballot.
“IFB has been reaching out to legislators to gain their support for passage of this effort,” Duncan said.
This marks a strategy change from an unsuccessful 2016 redistricting reform effort that was ruled against by the Illinois Supreme Court. Spain noted he was among the 600,000 Illinois voters who signed petitions to place that measure on the ballot.
“The reason the coalition is seeking a legislative approach is to avoid the narrow process in determining what can be placed on the ballot through a voter initiative, like in 2016,” Semlow said. “Working with the General Assembly allows a supermajority in both chambers to place up to three questions on the ballot per election.”
In addition to IFB, coalition members include the Better Government Association, the League of Women Voters, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and Change Illinois.
“The strength and depth of Farm Bureau will be critical,” Spain said. “We need more co-sponsors and outreach. We have a lot of work to do and appreciate any outreach and support.”
Spain added the House is not scheduled to be in session the week of May 6 and must pass the resolution earlier to meet the deadline.