Updated: January 7, 2013 1:27PM
As a resident of Chicago, I would feel safer knowing that all of its residents were driving with a license and insurance. Illinois is home to approximately 250,000 immigrant motorists who are now unable to get a driver’s license and insurance.
Records show that such immigrant drivers cost us about $64 million in damage claims last year. In 2011, 42 percent of all fatal crashes in Illinois involved unlicensed drivers, and nationwide they are five times more likely to be in a fatal crash than licensed drivers.
Washington and New Mexico require all motorists, including undocumented immigrants, to get a driver’s license. Both states have strong procedures to verify documents regarding identity and residence and guard against fraud and abuse.
The Illinois Senate has approved the much-needed bill that promotes public safety by protecting our communities from uninsured drivers and that frees police to tend to serious crime. I urge members of the House to follow the Senate’s lead and demonstrate leadership and courage in supporting this important legislation that’s a sensible solution for everyone who drives in Illinois.
Redistricting changes needed
The Nov. 6 elections in Illinois proved one thing: The voters do not choose their representatives.
Instead, the district boundary lines drawn by political leaders usually determine whether a Democrat or a Republican will be elected. Strange as it may seem, voters have little to say about it.
Illinois just went through a redistricting process based on the 2010 census figures and designed to balance each congressional and state legislative district with an equal number of residents.
When the governor and a majority of the General Assembly are from the same party, they control redistricting. As a result, this year the districts were drawn intentionally to maximize Democratic Party victories. If Republicans had been in control, the maps would have been biased toward their candidates.
It is time to give the power back to the people and take redistricting out of the hands of the legislative leaders who use it control legislators and demand their allegiance. A fair redistricting system would mean lawmakers more likely to vote on issues based on the needs of their constituents and districts rather than on loyalty to party leaders.
Making this change will require an army of citizens to pass petitions calling for a vote in 2014 on a constitutional amendment. The CHANGE Illinois! coalition of community, nonprofit and professional organizations has found considerable support and enthusiasm for such an effort.
If we can change redistricting in Illinois, we can begin to restore real representative democracy, take disproportionate power away from legislative leaders and give Illinoisans the ability, and right, to choose their representatives. After all, that’s the way a democracy should work.
George A. Ranney