Saturday, December 15, 2007

Third Proposal: Mixed-Member Legislature

Con-Con Illinois at first was advocating for a unicameral legislature elected using a proportional representation system. Now a mixed-member bicameral legislature with a House of Representatives and a Senate...

  • The 84 District Representative will be elected from 28 districts of 3 Representatives elected proportionally. These would currently be districts of about 450,000 citizens.

  • Four of the Representative Districts would be combined into one Senate District for a total of 7 Senate Districts. In each of these 7 Districts, there would be 18 Senators, with 9 of them elected for four-year terms every two years. These 7 Senate Districts would be quite large (1.8 million citizens) but with 9 Senators being elected proportionally, the low election threshold (10%) would allow a very diverse set of Senators to be elected, representing varying views across the whole district.

  • The remaining 39 At-Large Representatives would not have districts, but would instead be elected statewide. They would be elected using a Party List system (more on Proportional systems in a later post) and would be used to "even-out" the Legislature to make sure the political parties and coalitions statewide are reflected properly in the General Assembly. There would, for example, be a 5% threshold meaning that if a minority party got 5% statewide, but for some reason at the district level, they did not get 5% of the seats, they would pick-up At-Large seats to get their fair representation.

    Anonymous,  1:02 PM  

    Why does Con Con Illinois want to remove legislators from constituents? It's hard enough for ordinary citizens to get to know a legislator when districts included 185,000 people; this would put legislators on par with congresscritters. You now how much a district that size would cost to campaign in? What a mess. Those guys can't be serious.

    Anonymous,  1:33 PM  

    This is a very bad idea. Every loser political party would have some goofy member elected to the General Assebly. I am now starting to understand why many in the establishment are leary of these con-con types. Their true colors are starting to show.

    Wayne Smith 3:43 PM  

    The two previous comments are classic arguments against proportional representation, but neither of them hold water.

    Very few people have actually met their representative, and many people wouldn't know his name. Most people vote on the basis of party. In any case, under a mixed system, everybody still has a local representative.

    As for "every loser party" getting a representative, 5% is still quite a high threshold in the American context. The Green Party would probably elect somebody, and possibly a conservative alternative, but that's about it. So voters would have more real choices, but no chaos or gridlock.

    Anonymous,  11:41 PM  

    "but no chaos or gridlock"

    We have chaos and gridlock under the current system. How much worse could it be?

    Providing more choices for people is good, but allowng more choices alone will not bring more people to the polls, and so thise elected will arrive there with the support of an even smaller percentage of the already very small number of people that bother to vote.

    fedup dem 9:58 AM  

    Don't worry, folks. This plan would appear to be so confusing to most people that its chances of ever becoming reality are just slightly less than seeing the Cubs win the next six World Series!

    Anonymous,  3:03 PM  

    As the first anonymous poster, let me be clear: I'm not against PR, I'm against huge districts. If you want PR, great, but make the house bigger so that the districts don't get too big. The bigger the district, the more resources it takes to campaign there, the harder for truely independent voices to win.

    steve schnorf 7:45 PM  

    God save us from goo-goos, if this is their idea of better

    the Other Anonymous,  9:29 AM  

    Districts of 450,000 and 1.8 million people, eh?

    So, we either end up with a system like MWRD -- where ballot position and name ethnicity mean more than policy and competence; or, we have driven up the costs of campaigning. After all, we're talking about about house districts the size of congressional districts, and senate districts the size of small states.

    Extreme Wisdom 11:03 AM  

    Ditto's to most of the commentary here.

    What we need in a Convention is a set of processes that return power to citizens.

    This means we need to focus on limiting Government power and increasing citizen power.

    Recall, Binding Ballot Initiative
    FOIA reform with teeth
    No exception spending caps on every gov. entity,
    Home Rule Reform that empowers local citizen, not local hacks.

    Illinois Constitution is a license to steal, and citizens need more access to representation, not schemes to dilute control.

    Expanding the number of reps and going unicameral might be a good idea worth debating.

    Playing around with deck chairs on the functionally bankrupt Il-tanic isn't going to accomplish anything.

    lron,  1:33 PM  

    I concur with the comments about district size and voter contact. I can attest as a part-time criminal-law lobbyist in Springfield that many of the State Representatives are very responsive to constituent concerns. Some of the dysfuntional aspects of new bills are best brought to the elected official by a constituent, not only a person who appears in committee.

    Question: what were the arguments other than money saved for and against the downsizing of the House in the early "80's"? I thought voting then was fun!

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