Thursday, March 31, 2011

House Democrats announce remap committee and public hearing schedule

House Democrats today announced steps to bring more sunshine into the remapping process today with the formation of a Redistricting Committee and public hearing schedule announcement.

However, it remains unclear if the Democratic lawmakers who can control the redistricting process will provide the critical missing ingredient – an opportunity for the public to review draft maps and have residents' proposed changes considered by lawmakers in an open forum before the new borders are approved.

Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie will serve as chairwoman of the committee that will guide the once-a-decade process of redrawing state House and Senate borders. She will be joined by five other Democrats: Reps. Edward Acevedo, Marlow Colvin, Lou Lang, Frank Mautino and Karen Yarbrough, all of whom are members of the caucus’ leadership team.

House Republican Leader Rep. Tom Cross has yet to announce his appointees to the panel, but plans to do so shortly, according to a spokeswoman for the caucus. (The Senate Redistricting Committee already has been formed and held its first public meeting Monday.)

The House Redistricting Committee has scheduled hearings in 15 parts of the state, beginning on April 16 with Champaign, Cicero and McHenry. The announced hearing schedule concludes April 25, with a 3 p.m. committee hearing in the Capitol in Springfield.

In addition, the House Redistricting Committee has established a Redistricting website similar to the online hub announced by Senate Democrats a couple weeks ago.

The House announcement also detailed the creation of a “viewing station” in the Stratton Office Building, next to the Capitol in Springfield, which will provide some resources for users to draw maps.

ICPR has repeatedly stressed the importance of allowing residents to view, analyze and suggest changes on draft maps prior to final approval.

We hope that the General Assembly will commit to meaningful transparency in the remapping process by providing this opportunity.

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