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Illinois lawmakers cancel Thursday session, prepare for vote on congressional map next week

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Gray TV) - The Illinois Senate and House Redistricting Committees held their last scheduled hearings about the new congressional map Wednesday. Both chambers canceled session Thursday, so that leaves three days next week for lawmakers to debate and vote on the new map.

Advocates speaking during the House hearing said the first proposed map isn’t compact and pits urban and rural parts of the state against each other. Some people also noted that the map splits 42 counties for partisan gain. Many feel state lawmakers should consider keeping communities together instead of breaking them apart.

Andrew Ellison was the only advocate to testify in person for the House hearing Wednesday. He brought a wealth of knowledge as a redistricting expert from Indiana with previous ties to Illinois through working on political campaigns.

While Ellison is a Democrat, Republican members of the committee were happy to hear that he agrees the majority party shouldn’t be allowed to create their own maps.

“My concern is that consultants in DC and Illinois are trying to push maps that aren’t in the best interest of the people of Illinois. They’re not even in the best interest of members of this legislature,” Ellison said.

Andrew Ellison's proposed congressional map for Illinois.
Andrew Ellison's proposed congressional map for Illinois.(Mike Miletich)

Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) also noted that neither party should move forward with this path of partisan gerrymandering.

However, Democratic members still plan to vote on a congressional map when lawmakers return next week. They will likely vote on a revised map from the initial version released last Friday. Democratic leaders have to decide between making 14 or 15 districts in their favor.

Should Illinois have a second Latino majority district?

Republicans continue to demand transparency from Democrats in the redistricting process. Meanwhile, advocates say they just want their voices heard.

During the Senate hearing Wednesday, many who spoke argued Democrats need to have minority representation in every congressional district. Similarly, Juan Calderon from the Puerto Rican Cultural Center says current federal lawmakers aren’t listening to Latino voices in their communities.

Calderon argued lawmakers who represent areas with more Latino Illinoisans don’t care about their needs. That’s why many hope Democrats will consider creating a second Latino majority district.

“Leaders of this great state, we must continue to see a long-term impact that the COVID pandemic is going to have in our communities, specifically the Latino community. And we need to make sure to have an additional voice,” Calderon said.

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia currently represents the sole Latino district in Illinois.

Sen. Cristina Castro asked each of the witnesses if they think Illinois needs another Latino congressional district. Most of the advocates agreed it would be a good idea to have stronger representation in Washington.

However, the current proposal keeps four majority Black districts and one Latino District. Advocates hope that changes when Democrats introduce their revised map proposal.

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