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Remap remake? Illinois Democrats OK new legislative boundaries, Republicans cry ‘sham’

Both the House and Senate approved the revised legislative maps, but they parted company on the governor’s revisions to an ethics package that Republicans dismissed as watered-down. The Senate OK’d Gov. Pritzker’s amendatory veto, but the House rejected it. It was not immediately clear what would be next for the ethics bill.

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, center, gets a standing ovation after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the House floor Tuesday night.
State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, center, gets a standing ovation after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the House floor Tuesday night.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Democrats pushed revised maps of newly drawn legislative boundaries through the General Assembly on Tuesday, calling the latest versions consistent with “the diversity and values of our great state” — but Republicans blasted the remap redo as a “travesty” and a “sham.”

Despite actual population figures and a new round of public hearings, Democratic and Republican lawmakers were essentially back where they were three months ago.

The maps now go to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk — with Republicans again calling for the Democratic governor to veto them.

Introducing the redistricting measures on the House floor, state Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, said the updated maps are “not only consistent with the U.S. and Illinois constitutions,” as well as the federal voting rights act, they are “consistent with the diversity and values of our great state.”

House Republicans argued the Democrats were consistent with what the GOP characterized as the unilateral, one-sided, secretive process in drawing the hotly contested political maps, which will chart the next decade of elections in Illinois.

State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, holds her hand over her heart as she is thanked by state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House Tuesday night.
State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, holds her hand over her heart as she is thanked by state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, after passage of the Illinois legislative maps proposal on the floor of the Illinois House Tuesday night.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Some Republicans said they spotted errors in a House redistricting resolution and asked for the measure to be removed from the record so the chamber could correct it.

Hernandez said no.

Other Republicans complained they only had a half hour to review the measures before the vote.

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R- Morrisonville, said she “cannot imagine what the community groups are thinking right now looking at this” after participating in public hearings.

“All of the time they put into this process ... all to culminate with this. You might as well say, ‘We drew this for our own power. Hope you like it, you might get to read it after you vote on it,’” Bourne said.

“This is the opposite of transparent. It was a sham to ask the public to be in those hearings if you’re not even going to take into consideration their suggestions.”

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the House floor Tuesday night.
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, gives her remarks on the Illinois legislative maps proposal during debate on the House floor Tuesday night.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

Democrats defended the process and suggested if Republicans don’t like the maps, they should look to themselves and their message.

State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, said the census data shows “it’s not the constituents of Democrats who are leaving in droves — the people who are leaving are the people who are represented by Republicans.”

Despite the back and forth, the maps passed the House Tuesday night in a party line vote 73 to 43. They headed back to the Senate, which approved them a short while later in a 40-to-17 vote, also along party lines.

Before the vote in his chamber, state Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods criticized Democrats for deciding that ”keeping your power was more important than keeping and protecting the voting rights of people in Illinois.”

But state Senate President Don Harmon asked what Republicans have done during the map-making process.

“Did you go to court asking for an extension of the June 30 deadline? Did you round up busloads of witnesses to go to redistricting hearings?”

State Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, stands on the floor of the Senate in June.
State Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, stands on the floor of the Senate in June.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

“Redistricting is a complex puzzle,” the Oak Park Democrat said, calling the updated boundaries a “good” representation of “the diversity of the state of Illinois.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said the vote in his chamber “confirms that the Illinois Democrats have no interest in honest government.

“Contrary to their campaign promises, the House Democrats passed a legislative map that lacks any transparency or public input,” the Western Springs Republican said. “After lying to taxpayers once, the Governor now has the opportunity to live up to his campaign promises and veto this politician-drawn map.”

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, standing, watches as state Rep. Tim Butler, right, R-Springfield, asks questions during an Illinois House of Representatives Redistricting Committee meeting Tuesday.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, standing, watches as state Rep. Tim Butler, right, R-Springfield, questions Illinois State Rep. Lisa Hernandez, D-Cicero, during an Illinois House of Representatives Redistricting Committee meeting on Tuesday.
Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP

That plea is likely to fall on deaf ears — as it did during the first go round.

Earlier this year, Democrats used population estimates from the Census’ American Community Survey to create their first set of legislative maps, which they passed in the waning days of the May session — again over GOP objections.

But legislators returned to Springfield on Tuesday to amend the maps with actual population figures that the Census Bureau released in mid-August.

After the initial maps passed, Republicans called on Pritzker to honor his 2018 campaign pledge to veto any map drawn by politicians rather than an independent commission.

When he didn’t heed that call, Republicans called him a liar and a “sell-out” to the “corrupt Democrat machine.”

Along with the approval of the revised legislative maps, the state also Senate OK’d the governor’s amendatory veto making revisions to an ethics package that Republicans had dismissed as “weak.”

That measure passed the Senate unanimously, but failed to pass the House Tuesday night. It was not immediately clear what would be next for the bill.

The energy package that went nowhere in the spring session is still on lawmakers’ to-do list.

State senators debated the latest draft of energy legislation in a committee Tuesday afternoon, setting a 2045 closure date for the Prairie State coal plant in southern Illinois, a previous sticking point in negotiations between environmental advocates and organized labor.

But the language that surfaced Tuesday didn’t go far enough for environmentalists.

“We want to see a bill that puts people and climate first, that sets us on a path to a future that is free from carbon pollution,” Juliana Pino, the policy director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing the planet will continue to warm. The status quo is not sufficient to address climate and the current bill in front of us is also not sufficient to comprehensively address climate we have to solve for that.”