Rep. Stephens Co-Sponsors Independent Maps Amendment, Pushes for Bipartisan Support

As one of his first acts as a newly appointed legislator, Representative Brad Stephens (R-Rosemont), is now a co-sponsor of legislation to move the map drawing process out of the hands of politicians and to an independent commission.

“It was important to me that one of the first bills I sign on to have a beneficial impact on Illinois for generations,” Rep. Stephens said.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 10 (HJRCA 10) proposes to create a committee of 11 members that will be charged with drawing the legislative map. From among the 100 potential commissioners proposed by the Auditor General, the commission would be made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, three non-affiliated individuals, and finally a commissioner selected by each of the four legislative leaders. Any new plan would take effect in 2021 and would apply to members elected in 2022 and after. This support by Stephens follows the Supreme Court’s ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause which declared gerrymandering a political issue and left future decisions to the states.

Stephens continued, “the Supreme Court’s recent decision on gerrymandering has put the onus on us [state lawmakers] to ensure that good and fair government can take place. I believe that this amendment will allow us to take the necessary steps towards parity in our legislative districts. This amendment is an opportunity to demonstrate the ability of our legislature to engage in bipartisanship and collectively engage in trustworthy government.”

Any map proposed by the committee would need 7 supportive votes from its members; 2 of which must be from each political party whose candidate for Governor received the first and second most votes in addition to 2 commissioners who are not affiliated with either political party. The amendment would also require the commission to hold public hearings before and after releasing a proposed plan.

“Governor Pritzker has made his support known, through his consistent public opposition to gerrymandering, but it’s time for the Governor to put action behind his words,” Rep. Stephens continued. “This past spring proved that a lot can be accomplished if the push is there. I stand with my fellow Republicans and hope that our friends across the aisle will find a way to join us in support of this amendment.”

HJRCA 10 was filed by House Republican Leader Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) in January. The legislation has yet to be voted on and will require an increase in Democratic support if it hopes to pass once session resumes in the fall. As a constitutional amendment, it would then be placed on the 2020 ballot for voter approval.