General Assembly plans return to Springfield for special session on legislative maps

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Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, gives his closing remarks on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives in June.
Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside, gives his closing remarks on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives in June. | Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register, distributed by the Associated Press

The move follows the release of the latest U.S. Census figures. House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said he and others “want to make sure every voice is heard and represented” and invited the public to participate in open hearings before the Aug, 31 session.

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to return to Springfield on Aug. 31 for what’s currently slated to be a one-day special session to amend the legislative maps following the release of the latest U.S. Census figures.

In a statement Friday, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said the return to the legislature will be to “amend the legislative map enacted in June to incorporate the latest census data.”

The Hillside Democrat said he and others “want to make sure every voice is heard and represented” and invited the public to participate in open hearings before the legislature’s late August return.

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, issued a similar statement about the party’s commitment to implementing “a map that is fair and represents the diversity of the population of Illinois.

“With census data now available, we will take any necessary legislative action with that same goal in mind,” Harmon said.

Republican leaders, who did not immediately comment Friday, sought a brief adjournment in the matter until Sept. 1 so they can analyze the amended plans.

On Monday, they said the U.S. Census figures released last week prove their claim that political maps drawn by Democrats “in a closed room” this spring using population estimates are “unusable and unlawful.”

Rather than wait for the official census figures, Democrats had used estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to craft their proposed maps, which they pushed through the state House and Senate in May before the end of session.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed them into law days later, saying they “help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government.”

Pritzker didn’t say whether or not he regretted signing those maps when asked about them at an unrelated news conference Friday, but did say he’s “still committed to making sure that we have a map that reflects the diversity of our state.”

“If the legislature takes a look at the map that they already have, and feels they need to make adjustments to it, then that’s obviously something I’ll consider at the time,” Pritzker said.

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August 20, 2021 at 12:38PM

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