Quinn signs legislative map into law

June 3, 2011

Kristen McQueary

(WBEZ/File)

The map of state legislative districts, heavily criticized by House and Senate Republicans for being too partisan, is now Illinois law.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill late Friday afternoon, just two days after telling reporters at a news conference he wanted to review the state and federal redistricting maps more carefully to ensure they were “fair.” The federal congressional map remains on Quinn’s desk. He has not said whether he will sign the bill or amend it with his veto pen.

“For the first time, the people of Illinois have been able to participate in public hearings and have their voices heard in drawing their legislative districts. I would like to commend lawmakers for significantly increasing openness and transparency in the remap process,” Quinn said in a statement.

State lawmakers redraw the boundaries of the state’s 59 Senate districts and 118 House districts every 10 years based on U.S. Census data-driven population shifts. This spring, House and Senate redistricting committees hosted forums statewide to collect input on how the maps should look.

The two chambers hosted another round of hearings in Chicago and Springfield after releasing the maps and changed the boundaries of several House and Senate districts to boost higher Latino populations. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund objected to the map initially because it didn’t include enough Latino-leaning districts.

It was unclear Friday afternoon whether MALDEF still objected to the map, but Latino groups have complained for several weeks that the map weakens them by dissecting Little Village, one of Chicago’s most densely populated Mexican-American neighborhoods. A MALDEF spokeswoman on redistricting did not immediately return a phone call.

Republicans also have complained the map violates state and federal laws that require “communities of interest” be kept together. Under the state and federal maps, a handful of city-based Democratic districts stretch far into the suburbs, slicing up Republican strongholds.

The Illinois Republican Party has not confirmed it will take the matter to court, but Democrats have said they expect a legal challenge.