Why the election worries Springfield’s old hands

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By some calculations, more than half the legislators in Springfield will be new or relatively new when the new General Assembly is seated after the November elections.

Because incumbents aren’t on the ballot in many districts, we are guaranteed 18 new state senators (although five of them are state representatives running for higher office). In the House, a minimum of 39 new faces will show up. Upsets could increase that number.

The Senate has 59 districts, and the House has 118.

This probably is fine with voters whose priority is to throw the bums out in every election cycle. But the people who push various issues session after session in Springfield want legislators who understand complicated issues such as restructuring pensions, a capital program or education funding.

“When you get brand-new people and yet have those big issues, you’ve got an audience that isn’t up to speed on how to deal with them,” one veteran of Springfield political battles said.

Another gave the example of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a technique for extracting oil and natural gas from harder rock than was possible in the past.

The issue came up at the end of the spring session, but proposed legislation was put off at least partly because it was clear many legislators had no idea what fracking was, he said.

And that was with a veteran group of lawmakers.

Read a July 31 Sun-Times editorial about hydraulic fracturing here.

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