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Remap reboot: Lawmakers to return to Springfield for special one-day session to amend legislative maps

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.

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

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly is expected to return to Springfield 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.

Republicans who sued over the maps say returning to Springfield proves their claim that the maps are unconstitutional.

“There is no way to ‘put the toothpaste back into the tube,’” one Republican leader said.

House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch said in a statement the return 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 session.

Senate President Don Harmon issued a statement about the party’s commitment to “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,” the Oak Park Democrat said.

Republican leaders filed a lawsuit against their Democratic counterparts and the Illinois Board of Elections shortly after the new legislative boundaries were signed into law in early June.

They sought a brief adjournment in the case until Sept. 1 to analyze the amended plans and filed a motion for a summary judgment in the case.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, said that motion for judgment comes “when there is no longer a dispute over the law and the facts.

“The release of the Census data is game-set-match against the Illinois Democrats,” Durkin said. “Now knowing that their original map is unconstitutional, the Democrats are now scrambling to draw a new backroom map on short notice. There is no way to ‘put the toothpaste back into the tube’ as discussed in our summary judgment motion.”

Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods, derided the map-making process as “quite possibly the most secretive, non-transparent process in the history of Springfield politics.”

“The proclamation for a special session is admission that the Democrats’ enacted map was unconstitutional,” McConchie said. “With the data on the people’s side, we are confident the court will see through the Democrats’ charade and agree with our motion to void this map.”

On Monday, Republicans 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 in May before the spring session adjourned.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed them into law days later.

The governor didn’t say whether he regretted signing those maps when asked about them at an unrelated news conference Friday, but he 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.