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Stories about Illinois

Illinois to stop debit card unemployment insurance payments

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced on Nov. 22, 2021, that unemployment insurance payments through state-issued debit cards would end starting Dec. 27, 2021. IDES said payments would continue through paper checks and direct deposit. Claimants will still be able to access the funds on their debit cards after December 27 until their cards expire. 

KeyBank, the debit card vendor for IDES, decided to stop providing the debit cards but did not provide a reason for the change.

Unemployment insurance is a term that refers to a joint federal and state program that provides temporary monetary benefits to eligible laid-off workers who are actively seeking new employment. Qualifying individuals receive unemployment compensation as a percentage of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they search for new employment.

The federal government oversees the general administration of state unemployment insurance programs. The states control the specific features of their unemployment insurance programs, such as eligibility requirements and length of benefits.

For more information on Illinois’ unemployment insurance program, click here. For information about unemployment insurance programs across the country, click here.

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Illinois enacts new congressional district maps

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

Illinois enacted new congressional districts on Nov. 24, 2021, when Gov. J.B. Pritzer (D) signed a proposal approved by the legislature into law. Illinois was apportioned 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one set less than it was apportioned after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Illinois’ 2022 congressional elections.

On Oct. 28, the Illinois Senate passed a map in a 41-18 vote, which the House then approved on Oct. 29 in a 71-43 vote. Released on Oct. 28, this was the fourth congressional map that legislative Democrats proposed.

The Associated Press‘ Sara Burnett wrote, “The map … was intended to eliminate two Republican-held districts and make elections easier for Democratic candidates.” Burnett also said the map “added a second predominantly Latino district, after census data showed Illinois’ Latino population grew over the past decade. They also maintained three predominantly Black districts.”

State Sen. Don Harmon (D), president of the Senate, said the map “reflects the diversity of the state of Illinois,” and combined communities “that shared political philosophies and policy objectives.” State Sen. Don DeWitte (R) said, “This will be the most gerrymandered map in the country, and this process will be used as the poster child for why politicians should never be allowed to draw their own maps.”

As of Nov. 24, 18 states had adopted new congressional maps, one map was approved but had not yet taken effect, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 25 states had not yet adopted new congressional maps. As of Nov. 24 in 2011, 27 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 159 of the 435 seats (36.6%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Updates on redistricting lawsuits in Wisconsin, Illinois

Federal court pauses lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s redistricting until Nov. 5

On Oct. 6, a three-judge federal court panel agreed to temporarily halt proceedings in a lawsuit asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to redraw district maps and intervene by drawing its own maps. Attorney Mark Elias filed the lawsuit on behalf of six Wisconsin Democrats. The court postponed further action in the case until at least Nov. 5, but said that it would prepare for a trial in January 2022 if maps are not enacted.

In its ruling, the three-judge panel said, “Federal rights are at stake, so this court will stand by to draw the maps — should it become necessary. The court recognizes that responsibility for redistricting falls first to the states, and that this court should minimize any interference with the state’s own redistricting efforts. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court did not commit to drawing new legislative or congressional maps, and has not yet set a schedule to do so, or even to decide whether it will do so.”

On Sept. 24, lawyers for Republican state legislators in Wisconsin asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the federal lawsuit, arguing that redistricting challenges should be heard in state, rather than federal courts. On Sept. 22, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided 4-3 to hear a redistricting case filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asking the court to establish a timeline for the legislature and Gov. Tony Evers (D) to agree on new maps and to draw the maps themselves should they be unable to.

Plaintiffs amend filings in lawsuits challenging enacted legislative maps in Illinois

The plaintiffs in two lawsuits challenging Illinois’ newly enacted state legislative district boundaries amended their filings on Oct. 6 after Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed the new maps into law on Sept. 24. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Illinois House and Senate Republican leaders Jim Durkin and Dan McConchie argue that the redrawn district boundaries reduce the number of districts where Latino voters comprise a majority of the voting-age population.

Both lawsuits were originally filed in June and argued at the time that the original state legislative maps enacted on June 4 were invalid because they used data from the American Community Survey rather than from the 2020 census. Both lawsuits ask the court to invalidate the enacted maps. The lawsuit filed by Illinois’ House and Senate Republican leaders further argues that the state failed to meet the June 30 constitutional deadline for new district boundaries since the maps that the legislature passed were invalid. If a court rules that the Illinois legislature failed to approve a redistricting plan by the deadline, responsibility for drawing new maps would go to an eight-member backup commission where no more than four members may belong to the same political party.

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Since Aug. 10, four states have implemented universal indoor mask requirements

Between Aug. 10 and Sept. 2, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington announced new indoor mask requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

In Illinois, an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals went into effect on Aug. 30. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced the policy on Aug. 26. Illinois had previously lifted its mask requirement, which lasted for 407 days between May 1, 2020, and June 11, 2021.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 11, and announced an outdoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 24. The orders took effect on Aug. 13 and Aug. 27, respectively. Oregon had previously lifted its mask requirement, which lasted for 365 days between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

On Aug. 17, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals would take effect on Aug. 20. Previously, New Mexico had an indoor mask requirement in place only for unvaccinated individuals. It had lifted the requirement for vaccinated individuals on May 14, 2021.

In Washington, an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals took effect on Aug. 23. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced the policy on Aug. 18. The requirement does not apply to small gatherings or office environments where everyone is vaccinated and interaction with the public is rare, or while working alone. Inslee previously lifted the indoor mask requirement for vaccinated individuals on May 13, 2021.

Three states currently have statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and 7 states have statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All 10 of the states have Democratic governors.

In total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. Three states (Louisiana, Oregon, and Illinois) that allowed a statewide order to fully expire later reinstated a mask order.



Redistricting Roundup: Illinois legislature enacts revised district boundaries for state House, Senate

Today’s redistricting roundup includes news from Illinois and Ohio.

Illinois

The Illinois House and Senate approved new state legislative boundaries on Aug. 31 during a special session. The maps, which passed 73-43 in the state House, and 40-17 in the state Senate, revised legislative redistricting plans enacted in June. The maps the state approved in June were drawn to meet the Illinois Constitution’s June 30 deadline for approving a state legislative redistricting plan and were adopted before the U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. Click here to view the new state House map and here to view the Senate map.

Two lawsuits that were filed in federal district court challenging the June legislative maps were consolidated on July 14. The minority leaders of the Illinois House and Senate and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued that those redistricting plans did not ensure that the districts had substantially equal populations because they used data from the American Community Survey (ACS) instead of the 2020 census. The trial in the consolidated lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Sept. 27. 

Legislators have not yet proposed a congressional redistricting plan in Illinois.

Ohio

The Ohio Redistricting Commission met on Aug. 31 and decided it would hold three additional public hearings before approving proposed maps, as opposed to a single public hearing required by law. The Commission’s meeting follows 10 public sessions held in various locations across the state from Aug. 23 to Aug. 27.

The Commission did not approve new state legislative districts by its initial Sept. 1 deadline, and the final deadline for the creation of new legislative boundaries is Sept 15. Rep. Bob Cupp (R), a co-chair of the commission, said the late release of census data was the cause of the Commission’s delay and estimated maps would be formally proposed in 10-12 days. The Ohio Redistricting Commission is made up of five Republicans—including Gov. Mike DeWine (R)—and two Democrats.

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Illinois legislature approves new legislative maps in special session

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

The Illinois House and Senate approved new state legislative boundaries on Aug. 31 during a special session. The maps, which passed 73-43 in the state House, and 40-17 in the state Senate, revised legislative redistricting plans enacted in June. The legislature approved maps in June in order to meet the state constitution’s June 30 deadline for approving a state legislative redistricting plan. They were adopted before the U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12.

Click here to view the new state House map and here to view the Senate map.

Two lawsuits that were filed in federal district court challenging the June legislative maps were consolidated on July 14. The minority leaders of the Illinois House and Senate and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund argued that those redistricting plans did not ensure that the districts had substantially equal populations because they used data from the American Community Survey (ACS) instead of the 2020 census. The trial in the consolidated lawsuit is scheduled to begin on Sept. 27. 

Legislators have not yet proposed a congressional redistricting plan in Illinois.

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Illinois Redistricting Update: Special session to be held on Aug. 31, motion for summary judgment filed

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

The Illinois House and Senate Redistricting Committees will hold special sessions on Aug. 31 to “amend the legislative map enacted in June to incorporate the latest Census data.” Lawmakers are holding public hearings ahead of the special session from Aug. 26-29.

The special session is coming after the release of 2020 census data on Aug. 12, and Illinois Senate and House minority leaders McConchie (R) and Durkin’s (R) motion filed Aug. 19 for summary judgment in the consolidated redistricting lawsuit, Contreras et. al. v. Illinois State Board of Elections. The motion argued that the maps signed by Gov. Pritzker (D) on June 4 are unconstitutional because they exceed the maximum 10% deviation permitted, with “29.88% [deviation] for House Districts and 20.25% for Senate Districts.”

Contreras et. al. v. Illinois Board of Elections was consolidated on July 14, from two separate lawsuits filed in June: one by minority leaders McConchie and Durkin on the 9th, and the other by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of five registered voters (Contreras, Fuentes, Martinez, Padilla, and Torres).

Plaintiffs alleged that the new district maps did not have substantially equal populations because they relied on data from the American Community Survey.

The Illinois State Board of Elections and the offices of House Speaker Welch (D) and Senate President Harmon (D) filed a motion to dismiss on July 16, alleging the plaintiffs lacked standing and that until the Census Bureau released full data, there was no way to measure the validity of the plaintiffs’ equal protection arguments. On July 28, MALDEF attorneys filed an amended complaint, alleging that because Contreras, Fuentes, Martinez, Padilla, and Torres lived in the allegedly malapportioned districts, the maps would dilute their votes in future elections. As of Aug. 27, litigation on the case is ongoing. A trial was tentatively set for Sept. 27-29.

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Illinois, Kentucky end face-covering requirements

Two states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between June 5-11.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) moved the state to Phase 5 of reopening June 11, ending the statewide mask mandate. The state still requires masks in schools, on public transit, in hospitals, and at congregate facilities like prisons and homeless shelters. Masks are also recommended in indoor public spaces for individuals who are not fully vaccinated. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) ended the statewide mask requirement, remaining social distancing requirements, and all capacity restrictions June 11. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people still have to wear masks on public transit, at schools, and in healthcare settings.

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 13 states had statewide mask orders, including 11 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and two of the 27 states with Republican governors. Of those 13 states, at least 11 exempted fully vaccinated people.

Of the 26 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 14 have Republican governors and 12 have Democratic governors. Twenty-three states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



Redistricting review: Illinois enacts state leg., supreme court maps

On June 4, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed into law new maps for the Illinois state Senate, the Illinois House of Representatives, and the Illinois Supreme Court, making Illinois the first state to enact new district maps in this redistricting cycle.

Upon signing the maps into law, Pritzker said, “Illinois’ strength is in our diversity and these maps help to ensure that communities that have been left out and left behind have fair representation in our government. These district boundaries align with both the federal and state Voting Rights Acts, which help to ensure our diverse communities have electoral power and fair representation.” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R), who voted against the new maps, said, “Gov. Pritzker, you sold out. You sold out independents, you sold out Republicans, you sold out Democrats, to the partisan Democrat machine which has destroyed Illinois.”

State supreme court districts were last redrawn in 1964. Illinois is divided into five supreme court districts. Cook County (home to Chicago) forms a single district, but it is allocated three seats on the seven-member court. Downstate Illinois is divided into four districts, each with one seat on the court. The state constitution allows state lawmakers to redraw supreme court districts at any time. However, according to The Chicago Tribune, “lawmakers have traditionally used boundaries for the circuit, appellate and Supreme Court laid out in a 1964 overhaul of the state’s court system.” 

In Illinois, the General Assembly is responsible for redistricting. Maps are subject to gubernatorial veto. Illinois is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. The General Assembly approved the state legislative redistricting plan (HB2777) and the supreme court redistricting plan (SB0642) on May 28. In both chambers, the votes split along party lines, with all Democrats voting ‘yea’ and all Republicans present voting ‘nay.’

Because the U.S. Census Bureau does not expect to deliver granular redistricting data to the states until mid-August, and in light of the state constitution’s June 30 deadline for state legislative redistricting, Illinois lawmakers used population estimates from the American Community Survey to draft the new maps.

It is not clear when lawmakers will begin the congressional redistricting process. The state constitution sets no deadline for congressional redistricting.

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Redistricting review: Illinois lawmakers approve state legislative, supreme court maps

Last week, Illinois lawmakers approved revised maps for the Illinois state Senate, the Illinois House of Representatives, and the Illinois Supreme Court. Both sets of maps were approved along party lines, with all Democrats voting ‘yea’ and all Republicans present voting ‘nay.’

In Illinois, the General Assembly is responsible for redistricting. Maps are subject to gubernatorial veto. Illinois is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has not indicated whether he intends to sign HB2777 and SB0642 into law. 

Illinois lawmakers released the proposed maps on May 21. Sen. Omar Aquino (D), chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said, “Redistricting is about making sure all voices are heard, and that’s exactly what this map accomplishes. This is a fair map that reflects the great diversity of our state and ensures every person receives equal representation in the General Assembly.”

Rep. Tim Butler (R) criticized the proposals: “Tonight’s drop of partisan maps is yet another attempt to mislead voters in an effort to block fair elections. We continue our call upon Governor Pritzker to live up to his pledge to the people of Illinois and veto a map that was drawn by politicians like what we see here today.”

Illinois lawmakers also released proposed maps for state supreme court districts, which were last redrawn in 1964. Illinois is divided into five supreme court districts. Cook County (home to Chicago) forms a single district, but it is allocated three seats on the seven-member court. Downstate Illinois is divided into four districts, each with one seat on the court. 

The state constitution allows state lawmakers to redraw supreme court districts at any time. However, according to _The Chicago Tribune_, “lawmakers have traditionally used boundaries for the circuit, appellate and Supreme Court laid out in a 1964 overhaul of the state’s court system.” 

Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D), chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said it was necessary to redraw the court’s district maps to ensure more equal populations between districts: “This map is about equal representation in the state’s most important court. As we strive for all to be equal before the law, we must ensure we all have an equal voice in choosing those who uphold it.” 

The state Republican Party opposed the redrawn the state supreme court map: “This is a brazen abuse of our judicial system and nothing more than political gamesmanship with what should be an independent court, free of corrupt influence.”

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