(The Center Square) – The Democratic majority at the Illinois statehouse is continuing on with their process of drawing new legislative boundaries for the next ten years, despite minority Republicans criticizing the process.
Several leading House Republicans held a news conference Thursday outside of a room inside a building at the capitol complex in Springfield they say Democrats are secretly drawing maps.
“This is the doorway to further corruption in the state of Illinois and it needs to stop,” said state Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria. He said Democrats are using “dubious” data from private demographers and American Community Survey estimates as the final Census numbers have yet to be released.
“And why are they doing it now, and why are they doing it in this room, so that they can uniquely control the outcomes and then impose them on the people of the state of Illinois,” Spain said.
Later in the day at a separate news conference, House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said they’re looking at all the information brought forth in public hearings. Asked why not invite Republicans to the Democrats’ room, Harris said “we haven’t been invited in their rooms either.”
Spain said Republicans have a map room and they opened it up to the press.
“Which is just a computer screen, the Democrats’ website up, and we’re clicking buttons showing that there’s no public testimony, not data presented, no transparency whatsoever,” Spain said.
Democrats say the links are now operational on their website ILHouseDems.com/redistricting/public-hearings/, but links for testimony from previous hearings are not working.
State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Chicago, said after concluding more than 20 hearings, they’re now getting input from legislators to draw the maps.
“It’s just a matter of compiling, it’s nothing new,” Hernandez said. “There’s no secret. This is a part of the process.”
Republicans say it’s premature to start drawing lines without all the Census data and politicians shouldn’t be picking their voters. The GOP has also been pushing for the creation of an independent map-making commission.
But, that falls in line with Republicans who say politicians shouldn’t be picking their voters for the next ten years. Hernandez said they’re “following the constitution.”
“This is nothing unusual,” Hernandez said. “It is based on what the constitution is asking of us.”
Democrats have said they have a June 30 deadline to get a map to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s approval.
State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said the Illinois Constitution gives an ultimate deadline of Oct. 5.
“We have plenty of time,” Butler said. “We have plenty of time between now and the end of June to work collaboratively to get something done and let the public in this room back here, but that doesn’t seem to be what the Democrats want to do.”
Senate Republicans said they are not drawing any maps. The Senate President’s office didn’t return a message seeking comment.