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Letters to the Editor

The What Amendment?

The Putback Amendment, that one. The question is: What is the Putback Amendment and why should I vote for it? Well, allow me to present the highlights.

The last Illinois Constitutional Convention (Con-Con as it was called), was in 1970 and did a good job of ensuring career politicians the ability to shove legislation they don’t like ‘under the rug.’

It further made provisions to easily keep incumbents in office and allow the leaders of the majority party to determine what legislation would see the light of day, and then instruct the legislature how to vote on it without first reading it. In other words it skewed the entire political process strongly in favor of Chicago dominance.

However, somewhere along the line in 1970, someone succeeded in getting a teeny-tiny thing included that allows the people (that’s you and me), to directly amend the Illinois Constitution if there are enough signatures to get it on the ballot and then enough votes in the general election to pass the amendment.

This little, virtually unknown process bypasses the legislature completely so that if it passes in the general election, it becomes law. Period. End of story.

Passage of the Putback Amendment would enact term limits on our Illinois legislature, stop gerrymandering, ensure fair elections, require transparent legislation and move us back to a unicameral legislature with three member districts. These are all good things.

Here are the facts:

Term Limits – The legislature is meant to be a part-time job and not a lifetime career. The amendment would limit total service of elected state positions to eight years and no more irrespective of how many offices they were elected to. Guaranteed legislative turnover – no more career politicians looking out for themselves only. If eight years is good enough for the office of President of the U.S., why not for our state folks? Oh, horrors, they won’t be able to stay in office for life.

Gerrymandering – The amendment makes this a thing of the past as it takes the ‘politicians’ out of the redistricting process and, instead, ensures objective maps with full public participation.

Fair Elections – The amendment brings to a screeching halt the political games that keep good, qualified independents and third-party candidates off the ballot.

Transparent Legislation – Requires seven-day public viewing of all laws before they can be passed so we can all have a chance to see them and make our objections known prior to passage. It also stops the current practice of writing legislation in back-room secrecy with limited opposition input. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Unicameral Three Member Districts – Long story short, this enhances accountability and ensures representation of political minorities in all districts.

Unlike the ‘Fair Map’ amendment that addresses only gerrymandering and upon challenge will most likely be found unconstitutional the Putback Amendment will be found constitutional. Why? Because it meets the constitutional requirement of making either a procedural and/or a structural change while the Fair Map Amendment fails to do so.

We can expect both the Democrats and the Republicans to do both of the following:

• Push strongly for the Fair Map Amendment.

• Denigrate the Putback amendment because both parties have a vested interest in keeping their incumbents in power. Know that both parties fear the passage of the Putback Amendment and will be working hard to defeat it. Both parties will strive to get only the Fair Map amendment on the ballot knowing full well that it will be found unconstitutional and thereby guarantee their ability to conduct ‘same old, same old.’ In other words, there won’t be change in our deplorable Illinois politics unless the Putback Amendment passes.

Contact your local Tea Party, 9/12 group or other grassroots organization and ask where to sign the petition. It’s for our common good to do so.

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