From the Capitol building in Springfield, it’s about 200 miles southwest to Jefferson City, Missouri.
If you started walking from the moment Gov. JB Pritzker signed new legislative maps last May, or you waited for lawsuits, court proceedings, census data and revised maps, even allowing for delays on the scenic Golden Ferry ride across the Mississippi River, you’d still arrive in more than enough time to see the Missouri General Assembly complete its redistricting process.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jack Suntrup wrote recently about how certain lawmakers seemed indifferent to the 6 p.m. Friday deadline. The House did its job Monday, but Wednesday afternoon two St. Charles County senators stalled proceedings, including one filibustering to block health care legislation, which also prevented committees from meeting.
Missouri has only eight U.S. House districts and isn’t losing a seat this cycle. The primary is Aug. 2, while Illinois’ is June 28. But county clerks are sweating the diminished timetable to update rolls – they must begin primary work May 24 to get absentee ballots ready by June 17. The Senate finally gave approval late Thursday, preventing three federal judges from taking over.
Illinois’ system isn’t better – approving gerrymandered maps early yields no bonus points – but for all the complaints about Springfield, our neighbors have their own foibles. Some issues are a bit of a bizarro world, like Missouri Republicans striving to increase difficultly for amending the state constitution, whereas our Republicans accuse Democrats of making that bar too high.
Consider also the composition of other legislatures. Would we be better off with Nebraska’s unicameral approach? They have 49 lawmakers, about 1 for every 39,300 residents. New Hampshire’s General Court has 24 senators and a staggering 400-member House, all for a state about half the size of Chicago. Imagine having 3,755 Illinois House districts instead of only 118.
Illinois can be strange, but we’re hardly unique.
MIDDLE OF EVERYTHING
In conjunction with a new state campaign, I’ve invited readers to share favorite Illinois tourist attractions.
Kathy Bauer recommends the Bureau County Fair in Princeton. “This fair has been running since 1855 with only one year off for the Civil War and then again in 2020. It’s like a giant family reunion – visiting with friends and family that you haven’t seen for a year (or two). I have been a member of the board of directors for many years. I love to take people … to the Draft Horse Show and the cattle barn, to check out the photography, canning and collections in the exhibit halls and out to try the amazing fair food. Admission is still only $5 and there are plenty of things to experience each day at the Fair for all ages.”