Barickman cosponsors legislation designed to empower voters

Following a year in which Illinois voters witnessed a new level of gerrymandering through extremely partisan legislative, congressional, and judicial redistricting maps, State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is working to return power to the people of the state.  

“People are incredibly cynical and distrustful of state government right now, and for good reason. They repeatedly witnessed efforts to dilute and minimize their power as voters, including partisan maps drawn to maximize the political power of one party and protect political insiders. They’ve had enough,” said Barickman. “We need to restore the power and the role of voters in their democracy. These bills are designed to give people a stronger say in how their government operates and who represents them at the Capitol.”  

Senator Barickman is once again sponsoring a package of legislation referred to as the “Voter Empowerment Project.” The package includes four Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendments: 

SJRCA 13: Requires an independent redistricting commission, where the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the most senior supreme court justice of the opposite party would jointly select 17 commissioners to serve on the commission.  

The commission would be comprised of seven individuals representing the Democratic Party, seven individuals representing the Republican Party, and three independent commissioners. The first redistricting process would occur in 2023 and then after every subsequent federal decennial census. 

SJRCA 14: Allows Illinois voters to make more substantive changes to their constitution. The Illinois Constitution currently limits citizen-initiative amendments to specified structural and procedural subjects. This amendment would put voters in the driver’s seat, allowing them to circulate petitions for and vote on many key issues such as taxation, redistricting, and other important constitutional provisions. 

SJRCA 15: Permits citizens the ability to initiate up-or-down referendums on newly passed laws. By giving citizens the right to veto unpopular or rushed legislation, the amendment would allow voters a form of popular redress to political overreach and unwanted mandates.  

SJRCA 16: Allows voters to recall elected officials including any executive branch officer, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Auditor General, Members of the General Assembly, and local government officials. Currently, only the Governor is subject to recall. 

“Redistricting reform will make sure that people are able to pick their representatives instead of entrenched politicians picking their voters. Recall provisions will make sure that politicians are accountable to the voters, and that bad actors can be removed from office. We also propose to allow the voters themselves to have a say in what laws are passed, and to be able to make changes to the state constitution,” said Barickman. “Democracy is supposed to be a system of self-government, these bills will make sure that is the case once again.” 

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