The 25th District Senator joined his Senate Republican colleagues at a Capitol press conference February 6, supporting the passage of Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4, a bipartisan measure that would give voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing maps.
“The politicians currently drawing new voting maps seem to have just two things in mind –protecting incumbents and helping their party win more seats. Districts are drawn so that the party who holds a seat is likely to continue to do so for the next 10 years (when maps are redrawn). The unfortunate result is that primaries become the main battlegrounds instead of general elections,” Oberweis said. “Under this scenario, Democrat candidates take more extremely liberal positions to win the vote of their base in the primary while Republican candidates take more extremely conservative positions to win their party’s base. We end up with more extreme candidates on both sides and fewer in the middle to help negotiate reasonable compromises.”
Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 would place the question of fair maps on the ballot for the next statewide election. So far, however, entrenched political leaders haven’t allowed similar bills to advance, despite a nationwide call for fair map plans from members of both parties.
“Redistricting reform requires the General Assembly to submit an amendment to the Illinois Constitution – providing voters the opportunity to put a new system in place. We have been working on this issue for many years, but the Democrat majority has not allowed a vote in either the House or the Senate,” Oberweis said. “This is a Democrat initiative with strong Republican support. By reaching across the aisle and working together, we can get this on the ballot and let people decide.”
Senate Republican lawmakers are giving the people of Illinois the opportunity to voice their support for fairer maps in Illinois by visiting http://senategop.state.il.us/ and signing the fair maps petition. Oberweis says a petition is also available on his legislative website at http://senatoroberweis.com/.
“Healthy democracy requires competitive elections and new ideas. Our current system, which gives the party in power ultimate authority to redraw legislative maps, inhibits that,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington. “We need to take the power of drawing legislative maps away from politicians and give the people of this state the opportunity to vote on a new redistricting system.”
Sponsored by lawmakers from both parties, Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings to allow Illinois residents to weigh in.