Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) unveiled the Voter Empowerment Project, a legislative package of constitutional amendments designed to allow Illinois voters a more active role in their democratic process, during a Zoom press conference on January 18.
“For too long in this state, Illinoisans haven’t had a voice in their state government,” said Leader McConchie. “Legislative leaders have consistently marginalized the voices and opinions of the people of Illinois, cutting them out of the legislative process as important decisions continued to be made behind closed doors without public input. That’s why I am renewing Senate Republican calls to give the people back their voice through our 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.
“This package provides needed checks and balances to Illinois’ government—protections that have been weakened after decades of corruption and mismanagement,” said Leader McConchie. “It will empower the people of Illinois by providing them with tools to take back their government.”