Democratic lawmakers have been meeting with Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch’s staff to discuss what their new districts should look like and say the goal is to have a legislative map done before the General Assembly adjourns May 31.
While that is the goal, a lot is still on the table with redistricting. If the General Assembly does not have a map by the end of May, the legislature would have to be called into special session ahead of a June 30 deadline mandated by the state constitution for a new map.
"The expectation is (the map) will be done by May 31," said Aurora Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit. "But, things could change."
A Welch staffer said the timeline being worked with is the June 30 constitutional deadline, but the goal is to have a map "introduced as soon as possible, to give lawmakers and the public a chance to weigh in."
Democrats say they have been meeting with staff to lay out changes they believe should be made in their districts’ boundaries on legislative maps that, once approved, will be in place for a decade.
Kifowit said that in her meeting with Welch’s staff she addressed the Pacific Islander population in her district and her aim to keep the group within one district. She said no map drawing happened in the meeting.
Glen Ellyn Democratic state Rep. Terra Costa-Howard said at her meeting she expressed concern about some smaller suburbs like Lisle being broken up into multiple districts. Lisle, with roughly 23,000 people, is represented in the Illinois House by Costa-Howard, Democrat Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville and Republican Amy Grant of Wheaton.
"I have been very vocal, I am not voting for a map I don’t think is fair," Costa-Howard said. "I am not going to stand for DuPage County in particular being drawn in a way for advantageous reasons that are unnecessary."
Some Democrats have hinted that a draft of a legislative district map has been drawn, but others have said no map drawing has taken place yet.
Following his meeting with Welch’s staff last week, Deerfield Democrat Bob Morgan told WCIA-TV’s Mark Maxwell: "We have a map that people can count on, that’s transparent, that reflects the conversations people have been having across the state."
Reached by the Daily Herald, Morgan said, "I do not have any comment at this time."
Other Democrats say no map has been drawn and conversations with Welch’s staff were preliminary.
"All we did was consult with the staff, we didn’t do any map drawing," Kifowit said. "That happens through the course of normal bill-making – we go, we talk with staff and confer with staff."
Mark Walker, a Democrat from Arlington Heights, said his meeting consisted of Welch’s staff asking him about population shifts in his district. When asked if any new district lines or new maps were drawn, Walker said: "Not for me."
Which data is being used to draw the map is a major point of contention between Republicans and Democrats.
Kifowit said she believed Welch’s staff was using American Community Survey estimate data to draw the map, but was not "100 percent" sure.
Walker said he "assumed" it was the American Community Survey estimate data.
"I think staff is using the most reliable data they can at this time given the census numbers are delayed," Kifowit said. Full U.S. census data is delayed until at least August in part because of the pandemic, leading Republicans in Illinois to push for waiting to draw maps. After the June 30 constitutional deadline, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is in charge of drawing maps, giving the GOP a role it otherwise will not have in the legislature dominated by Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods is pressuring Gov. J.B Pritzker to veto the map Democrats draw, citing what he calls "flawed data."
"This is exactly why the governor should veto any map that comes out of it," McConchie said. "He promised to veto a map that was drawn by politicians or their allies. Not only is that the case, but they’re doing it using flawed data because the real data will not be out until August or September."
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May 15, 2021 at 05:14PM