Eye On Illinois: GOP continues roasting Pritzker on map vows

FOID program under increasing legal pressure

I love to say I told you so.

Two mid-April column topics resurfaced this week. The first was from April 14, praising Republican spokesmen on the House and Senate redistricting committees for calling out Democratic Gov. JB Prtizker’s earlier vows to support an independent commission to draw new legislative maps and veto any unfair plans.

“Pritzker has clear obligations here, and they’re self imposed,” I wrote, adding the spokesmen “are just two of many Republicans all too ready to score these points, which is completely fair and good strategy to boot.”

The chorus intensified Wednesday when Senate Republicans blasted Pritzker for perceived backpedaling.

“As I’ve said, I will veto an unfair map,” Pritzker said Tuesday. “I’ve also said that in order for us to have an independent commission, we needed to have a constitutional amendment, something that would actually change the way the process operates today in the constitution. That did not happen.”

We did have another amendment on the 2020 ballot, a spectacularly failed effort to change the income tax system. Pritzker spent $51.5 million trying to win votes but made no meaningful efforts to promote map reform when the time was ripe. Proclaiming it simply didn’t happen relinquishes personal ownership and influence.

“Gov. Pritzker has considerable power as the chief executive to make his candidate promise a reality,” said Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, of Hawthorn Woods. “If the governor abandons that promise, he abandons the best chance that we have to actually have changed the nature of our politics for not only the next 10 years, but for generations to come.”

Former Gov. Pat Quinn famously caved on his own longstanding commitment to fair maps before losing a re-election bid. Pritzker’s choice to follow the same path inspires no confidence.

The second topic, addressed April 15 and 17, is the beleaguered Firearm Owner Identification program. I warned “eventually a judge will rule the FOID program violates Second Amendment rights by depriving people of their right to bear arms.”

Enter White County Judge T. Scott Webb, who became the second Southern Illinois jurist to rule in favor of Vivian Brown’s challenge to her charge of illegal possession of a gun. She had the rifle in her home but not an FOID card, although she was eligible to obtain the document.

Webb’s ruling is essentially the same as his retired predecessor, and although it applies only to Brown, his opinion directly challenges the entire FOID program, writing he couldn’t “reasonably construe the FOID Card Act in a manner that would preserve its validity.”

If Democrats want to keep FOID, they must enact changes warding off these and other legal challenges, not to mention ensuring the state processes applications on time.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Local News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.