Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Arguments against multi-member districts

Part two of a post from Saturday.

If I understand correctly the main reason that the composition of the state house representatives was changed by voters in 1980 was to save money. The idea was to capitalize off of voter anger at state legislators approving pay raises for themselves.

Wait a second, isn't that what they're trying to do in the state senator. Isn't someone like an Emil Jones attempting to get some pay raises? Even at a point where state finances aren't where they are reported that they should be?

Well anyway, to find arguments against this I had to look into the past. I found this article from Illinois Issues. Aside from the whole cost savings issue there's also...
  • Streamline the process, making the House more efficient and productive because fewer lawmakers mean fewer bills introduced, a smaller staff, and a smoother operation.
  • Promote competition and enhance accountability because one-on-one contests will encourage more folks to run in smaller districts and make it easier to oust entrenched incumbents.
Hmmm, it probably did one thing, however, it's safe to say one-on-one contests didn't do they job that proponents expected it to do. It's rare especially in the city to hear about anything resembling competitive state legislative contests. There were one or two in the primaries this year.

In fact here are some opposing arguments...
  • Deny representation for members of the minority party in a given area.
  • Promote regional rivalry.
  • Concentrate power in leadership hands.
  • Reduce the number of women and minorities in the House.
Oh well it's probably safe to say those actually came to pass. Perhaps three out of four. Perhaps half because I'm not sure I see a regional rivalry. If there is a rivalry it's mostly among Chicago politicians such as Rod Blagojevich or Michael Madigan. So far these isn't a rivalry between for instance the rest of the state vs. Chicago. Or at least it's not as visible so long as powerful Chicago politicians aren't able to get along with each other.

In that case downstate Illinois isn't the only region that is suffering from neglect.

I wish I knew whether or not repealing the cutback amendment or at least bringing back multi member districts in some form is even high on the agenda if there is to be a con-con by 2010. Remember voters must call for one just as they're about to elect a new President of the United States in November.

To be sure, yeah I'm disappointed that politics isn't working well in Illinois at the moment. If there must be a change, it probably more likely to affect the Governor's office. There is certainly some changes to be made to the legislature. Of course whether or not that means a change of the general composition or otherwise is a good question.

You may have noticed something reading this blog, I don't care for Blagojevich as a governor. Of course I want to take care and not direct any proposals that are designed for him. All we can do is make some changes to for instance the amendatory veto. It could be said that an executive has no right to change legislation although at least an executive should have the right to cancel out parts of legislation because s/he would deem a particular item unconstitutional.

Anyway there are some changes to be made. Is a larger state legislature a good idea? Is the idea of cumulative voter and multi-member legislative districts? I'd have to find more information to determine that.

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