During a busy week in Springfield, the passage of a measure to alter the way legislative districts are drawn went largely unnoticed. While the veto session received attention for votes on civil unions, pension cuts, and medical marijuana, a bill that could instill the first changes to the redistricting rules since 1970 cleared the upper chamber.
After wasting opportunities to reform redistricting in the spring, the State Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation (SB 3976) on Wednesday that would require four public hearings around the state and install provisions to keep ethnic and cultural communities in cohesive blocs. Both are meaningful changes to a system ripe for reform, even if the version of the bill eventually approved contained half the number of public hearings as an earlier version.
Still, reformers from all over the political spectrum are clamoring for more. Indeed, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), said the legislation didn't do nearly enough. In a statement made to the State Journal-Register, Raoul said, "There are other mandates that are superior to what we passed out [Wednesday]." Even if it's not perfect, considering where this debate was in the spring, this legislation is an important step in the right direction.