Is Illinois In Need Of A Constitutional Convention?

Jul 19, 2017

Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield)
Credit ilga.gov

Illinois' constitution has been in place since 1970.  But there's an effort to draft a new one.  Republican representative Tim Butler of Springfield has introduced a plan to hold another constitutional convention. 

“I think it's time for us to at least re-evaluate our governing document and see if moving into our third century of statehood if there are things we can change in the constitution that will allow us to move forward and prosper as a state," he said.  

Butler says topics ranging from taxes to redistricting are ripe for discussion.  But he adds he doesn't support doing away with state employee pension protections.   Some state worker labor groups have raised concerns a convention could open the door for that to happen.  

Every 20 years, voters are automatically asked about holding a convention.  Back in 2008, voters overwhelmingly turned down the idea. Unless Butler's idea gains traction, it could be 2028 before the option is presented again.

Butler points out since 2008, more than 400 resolutions have been introduced in the legislature to change the constitution.  Few ever get past the beginning stage.  But he said that shows there is a need to debate these topics.   

Butler's resolution would require a three fifths vote of the legislature and 60% voter approval for a convention to be called.  The General Assembly would then set the ground rules for election of delegates.  

Representative Butler also spoke with us about other matters like the recent budget vote, the future of school funding and the shakeup in the governor's office:

Listen for more on the State Week podcast.
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
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