Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bring back multi-member state house districts

I have been sitting on this post since about the spring. Now it will see the light of day partially inspired by yesterday's question of the day by Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax blog. Perhaps later on either today or on Sunday I shall post some arguments against multi-member state house districts.

I have always intended to write this post for a while. I have seen a few posts that are in support of bring back this unique system in Illinois. This was abolished in the early 1980s with the advocation by the man currently sitting as the state Lt. Governor, Pat Quinn.

My support is basically with the idea that state government needs some fresh faces in politics. I know that this may not be the best most ideal way, but it is one way. I've read stories about colorful members of the Illinois House of Representatives who once this cutback amendment was passed were out of a job, because for the most part they were out of step with a majority in their newly created single member districts.

During this presidential campaign I followed the candidacy of Ron Paul. He's a Texas congressman who is said to be a constitutionalist, libertarian, or the only true conservative in the race. I wish Illinois could have their own version of Ron Paul. Someone outside of the mainstream of politics in Illinois and hopefully someone who isn't "bought" by any campaign committees of either party. And I do understand that certainly puts any aspiring candidate whether or not there is a return to the multi-member districts at a disadvantage.

I talked about this system early last year. It's my understanding and I'm sure that someone can enlighten me, that voters get three votes and they could use them as they choose. If a district leans Democratic, then there would be an election of two Democrats with the election of one Republican.

Of course that is assuming that those are the only two dominant parties in that district. Of course this could open the doors to representation by say either the Green Party or the Libertarian Party or any other third party that exists in the state. I haven't been able to establish exactly whether or not the top two winners amongst one party would win and then the top vote getting amongst Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, or whatever would be elected as a state representative.

I would hope that this might bring in some fresh ideas into the debate in Illinois. For example, people are debating how to fund education. Some want to change the system away from paying for public education with a property tax. On the other hand, I would personally like to see the end of the monopoly of public education with true competition for students and money between both private and public schools. If that was considered unreasonable I would like to see an increase in the number of charter schools in the state, if not zero limits on the number of charters in Illinois.

That of course is not the only issue. I posted on Illinoize that a Republican state senator would like to eliminate the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. This state board is in part one reason why a suburban hospital is planning to close. This board didn't allow them to expand to a more prosperous suburb and they still have to approve whether or not this hospital will close.

Of course other issues that could use some advocates, such as taxes. That is whether or not there should be a progressive income tax in Illinois. Also should any tax increase considered by either a county or municipality be put up to vote to the residents of those municipalities or counties.

Or another of my pet issues, guns. The state constitution guarantees a right to keep and bear arms although it is subject to police power. I suppose the issue here is should a citizen be allowed to keep a gun for their protection of themselves and their property. Should municipalities be allowed to pass gun control ordinances? Also should citizens have a concealed carry permit? I could even ask if the Firearm Owner's Identificaiton card should continue to be issued?

Of course what's made the news in the past week is recall that's making some news. It's moving downstate, but this is certainly one issue independent of a constitutional convention that an independent could take up the mantle. It doesn't matter whether or not there is an unpopular politician in office anywhere in the state.

I'm sure I've only touched the surface of the issues that could be taken up by a hopefully a newly composed legislature full of representatives voted in thru cumulative voting. Of course before we can even consider the return of multi-member district in Illinois there has to be a constitutional convention and Illinois voters can consider it until election day in November. This is when we'll be electing the next President of the United States. Perhaps I'll do more posts about this whether cumulative voting or a constitutional convention until November.

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