Greising | The Next Big Test for Speaker Welch: A Fair Map

Welch this week took a step toward accountability by identifying one key parameter he will use to assess the maps as they’re drawn. “The end goal has to be to arrive at fair maps that have equitable representation for underserved and overlooked communities across the entire state”.

Illinois State Capitol (Éovart Caçeir)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

The Chris Welch coming-out party had its latest event this week when the new speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives laid out his views on a host of issues he faces at a most difficult time for the state of Illinois.

From COVID-19 to the state’s brutal fiscal distress to equity and education issues, Welch touched on each of them. In a 20-minute speech, followed by 40 minutes of Q&A, Welch also talked about his legislative agenda for the spring session: ethics reform, the state budget, passage of the health care portion of the Legislative Black Caucus agenda and more.

One comment in particular stood out because, with it, the new speaker laid down a marker on an issue that has ramifications across state government: fixing the state’s badly gerrymandered electoral maps.

Welch’s comment — stating that he will view any proposed map based on its impact on equitable representation — is important because it is the first by a major player in the mapmaking process to specifically state a nonnegotiable demand.

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