House passes new map after fierce suburban lawmaker debate

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When state Democrats released their second proposed legislative map Thursday night, they said it addresses Republican concerns about incumbent legislators’ being drawn into districts together.

However, that olive branch extended from one party to another did not appear to apply to suburban Republican incumbents in the House.

The same seven suburban GOP representatives who were drawn into districts together in the first map proposal remained drawn together in the second proposal, which appeared for debate on the House floor Friday as House Resolution 359 and later as HB 2777.

HB 2777 passed 71-45 on a party-line vote just before 10 p.m. Friday. Hours earlier, it passed the Senate on a party-line vote of 41-18.

In the passed map proposal: Republicans Keith Wheeler of Oswego and Dan Ugaste of Geneva both live in the 50th District; Palatine Republican Thomas Morrison and Lake Zurich Republican Chris Bos are still both in the 51st District; and Wheaton Republican Amy Grant and Bartlett Republican Seth Lewis both are in the 47th District.

Deanne Mazzochi, an Elmhurst Republican, was still drawn into the 46th District with Villa Park Democrat Deb Conroy.

Mazzochi raised concerns with how the map was drawn around Elmhurst and her current District 47. The proposed 45th District in the new map, which contains 87.55% of Mazzochi’s old district, is stated in the resolution as being “drawn for political purposes to assist with increasing the political advantage for neighboring districts.”

The admission that some districts were drawn for political reasons ignited a debate on the House floor about whether an independent commission should have been created. On the floor, Mazzochi called out Democrats who once supported an amendment to create an independent mapmaking panel: Conroy, Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn, Kathleen Willis of Addison, Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego.

“Many in this room finally have a chance to put their vote where their mouth is and keep their promises to their districts,” Mazzochi said.

Kifowit called the Republicans’ argument “smoke and mirrors” in her floor statement, saying Democrats draw the map because they are the ones who win the votes in Illinois.

“Instead of putting up a smoke screen and talking about how this map is something, this map is just a snapshot in time,” Kifowit said. “The party is what connects with voters, represents the voters and therefore gets elected by the voters. That is the true essence of being an elected official.”

Elgin Democrat Anna Moeller said Republicans’ urging a “no” vote was a “political strategy” to delay the process and draw a map that reflects their political agenda.

“This is not about census data; this is about pushing us past our constitutional deadline of June 30 to force drawing a name out of a hat so a single partisan appointee can draw a map,” Moeller said.

Minority Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs called on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to live up to his 2018 campaign pledge to veto any partisan-drawn map. House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch of Hillside gave an emphatic floor speech in which he implored Republicans to look the diversity in the Democratic Party and ask themselves who really was the voice of the voiceless, as Republicans previously claimed in the night. Welch said the Republicans’ goal was “gridlock.”

CHANGE Illinois, a nonpartisan nonprofit that educates and advocates for ethical and efficient governments, also criticized the new maps, saying in a news release late Friday that they “prioritize incumbent protection over the interests of the people of the state.”

To view the House and Senate maps, visit https://ift.tt/3tfXw35 and https://ift.tt/2RO3oTM.

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May 29, 2021 at 03:25AM

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