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CAPITOL RECAP: Pritzker signs new legislative maps
Capitol News IllinoisSeptember 21, 2021 (Medium)

SPRINGFIELD – Despite opposition from Republicans as well as reform groups, Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday signed into law the revised state legislative district maps that lawmakers passed in August, opening the door to almost certain court challenges.

“These legislative maps align with the landmark Voting Rights Act and will help ensure Illinois’ diversity is reflected in the halls of government,” Pritzker said in a statement.

But not everyone agrees that the maps do reflect the state’s diversity. The political action arm of the reform group CHANGE Illinois issued a statement arguing that they actually dilute minority voting power.

“Many major groups agree the new maps reduce the numbers of majority Black voting age population districts and majority Latino voting age population districts,” the group said in a statement. “The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s lawyers have said they believe the state representative and Senate maps dilute Latino voting power. The Latino Policy Forum asked Pritzker to veto the maps for the same reason. Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting also said the maps do not create enough Black majority voting age districts.”

Lawmakers initially adopted maps during the spring legislative session in order to meet the state constitution’s June 30 deadline, despite the fact that they didn’t yet have the official, detailed U.S. Census data needed to draw districts with nearly equal population.

CAPITOL RECAP: Democrats approve new legislative maps on partisan lines
Capitol News Illinois, Capitol News IllinoisSeptember 1, 2021 (Medium)

SPRINGFIELD – Democrats in the General Assembly pushed through a new set of legislative maps during a one-day special session Tuesday, Aug. 31, although the process they used sparked the ire of Republicans and voting rights advocates alike.

If accepted by Gov. JB Pritzker, as they are expected to be, the new maps would replace those adopted in May, which were passed without the benefit of official 2020 U.S. Census data. But they will also have to pass muster with a federal court, where two lawsuits are pending, and possibly the Illinois Supreme Court.

The plan adopted Tuesday night was actually the third draft of a redistricting plan that had been introduced in the span of less than 48 hours. The first was formally released Monday afternoon and was the subject of a contentious public hearing that night. A second, amended version was introduced Tuesday morning, barely one hour before the start of a hearing in the House Redistricting Committee, and that plan was changed slightly again just before the House came into session to debate the package.

Governor J.B. Pritzker gives COVID-19 update for Illinois
May 6, 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a pair of bills Friday, June 4, that redraw state legislative and appellate court districts, despite the fact that official U.S Census data needed to ensure equal representation has not yet been delivered.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Pritzker said he signed the measures after reviewing the maps to make sure they complied with state and federal law by ensuring minority representation.

“Illinois’ strength is in our diversity, and these maps help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government,” Pritzker said in the statement. “These district boundaries align with both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts, which help to ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation.”

Reaction to Pritzker’s announcement was swift. House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch called the signing “a win for the people of this great state.”

Lawmakers pass stricter ethics standards, some Republicans say they’re watered down
Capitol News Illinois, Tim KirsininkasJune 1, 2021 (Short)

Shortly after 1 a.m. Tuesday, the Illinois Senate passed a bill aiming to improve ethics standards for elected officials after it was filed just hours earlier.

An amendment to Senate Bill 539, introduced by Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights, passed with bipartisan approval despite House Republicans’ concerns that it was watered down.

“This legislation takes the first steps in addressing some of the most egregious scandals in our state’s history,” Gillespie said in a news conference Monday night. “While it won’t end corruption overnight, it closes many of the loopholes that have allowed bad actors to game the system for decades.”

The measure passed the House 113-5 Monday and the Senate unanimously early Tuesday morning. The bill will only need a signature from the governor to become law.

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