Illinois Green Party Action Alert: Stop House Bill 723
An Action Alert from the Illinois Green Party, which is being threatened by a bill working its way through the Illinois State Legislature that is being billed as the “Protect Incumbents Act”:
A hearing on HB723 – the “Protect Incumbents Act” – will take place before the Senate Elections Committee on Tuesday, April 30 at 1:00 pm in Room 400 of the Capitol. Greens and others across the political spectrum who are tired of top-down party boss politics are urged to take action.
* Testifying at the hearing is the best step that we can take. If you are in or near Springfield and can make it on Tuesday, call Dan Kairis at 847-695-3195 to coordinate meeting up with other Greens there.
* Call the Senators on the Senate Elections Committee and ask them to vote No on HB723. A list of Senators on the committee is included at the bottom of this message. If you live in one of these Senators’ districts, it is especially important that you call. Emailing is alright, but calling gets a lot farther.
* Spread the word. Although the bill seems to be especially targeted at Greens, it’s not just Greens who are adversely impacted by this legislation. It’s aimed all across the political spectrum at anyone who isn’t currently in power. Forward this message to as many groups as you can. The fight to defeat this bill will likely last past Tuesday.
HOUSE BILL 723: PROTECTING INCUMBENTS, TARGETING GREENS
House Bill 723, the “Protect Incumbents Act”, is a bipartisan-supported bill specifically aimed at the Green Party and all other “political outsiders”. Currently, if no candidate runs in the primary for a given office, Illinois law allows an established political party to “slate” a candidate onto the general election ballot. If HB723 passes, then “slating” would have to be accompanied by collecting a massive amount of signatures in a short, cold time frame, effectively ending the practice. The bill passed the House earlier in April, so we need to try and get it shut down in the Senate.
The ability to slate is essential because of other strange aspects of Illinois law, including a very early primary (first Tuesday in February), and very difficult petitioning requirements for state legislature. These requirements aren’t a problem for incumbents and other candidates connected to the big party machines, but for Greens, these are extremely burdensome requirements. And as it so happens, the requirements are also burdensome for the Republicans in places like Chicago where the Democrats exercise one-party rule, and for the Democrats in places like DuPage County where the Republicans exercise one-party rule. The bill is designed specifically to protect incumbent state legislators, regardless of which party they belong to.
The Green Party in particular is a clear target of the bill. The Daily Illini in an April 14 editorial wrote:
“While the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Fortner (R-95), says the initiative is to even out the playing field for all candidates, this legislation would make it extremely difficult for a Green Party candidate to get on the ballot; the bill comes off as a direct attack against smaller parties.”
Read the entire editorial at: http://www.dailyillini.com/opinions/editorials/2009/04/14/house-bill-723-attacks-underrepresented-parties
In November 2008, 59 of 118 Illinois House seats and 20 of 40 Illinois Senate seats were unopposed in the general election – one-half of all legislative seats! This is a longstanding black mark against Illinois, a sure-fire sign of bipartisan political corruption. And if HB723 passes, the number of unopposed seats will increase significantly. The incumbents don’t just want to make sure they win; they don’t even want to have to run against anyone. But if Senators hear from constituents and others, there is a good chance the bill can be stopped – just like a similar bill was stopped in the same Senate committee last year.
Contact these members of the Senate Elections Committee on Tuesday morning:
Maggie Crotty (D-19) (Chair)
Terry Link (D-30) (Vice-Chair)
Michael Bond (D-31)
James Meeks (D-15)
Louis Viverito (D-11)
Dale Righter (R-55) (Minority Spokesperson)
Randall Hultgren (R-48)
David Luechtefeld (R-58)
Dan Rutherford (R-53)
For more information on House Bill 723 and other information about election reform in Illinois, please contact the Illinois Green Party:
Phil Huckelberry, Chair
Patrick Kelly, Media Coordinator