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Proposal to Shrink State Senate Has Some Downstate Critics

Some believe advantages of shrinking Senate from 58 to 41 members outweighed by huge districts it would create.
WTVO/WQRF -- It's an idea seemingly everyone not currently serving in the State Senate could get behind.  Gubenatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has proposed cutting the number of senators from 59 to 41, a move he says will make it tougher for incumbents to hold their seats and help keep insiders out of Springfield.

But feel it will make it tougher to represent the needs of downstaters by making senators more distant from their constituents.

Former State Senator Larry Bomke is one of them.  He called it quits in part because of redistricting.  "The largest drive in my district was 45 minutes.  Under the new district it would have been something like 2 to 2 and a half hours to the farthest part of my district." 

He says 2012's new legislative map.would have made it nearly impossible to travel around as much as he wanted to.  "I would have picked up a district that would have gone from Sangamon County straight west to missouri and almost down to Alton."

The prospect was unappealling to Bomke, who was known as the senator who spent his free time at events, as many as 10 per weekend.  "The one thing i prided myself on was being out in the community and often people would say to me i was going to call you but I knew I'd see you."  He believes a new proposal would make that tough for a lot of downstate senators already struggling with huge districts.

It would shrink the State Senate by 18 members.  The man behind the proposal says it would make senate races more competitive, not to mention save money..  But Bomke says it could remove some of that face to face contact.  That's the core of good government.  "In downstate now, even today, you have districts that are huge and to reduce the number of senators would make it even more difficult."

The change would require a constitutional amendment, which means voters would have to approve it.  Right now, Rauner is collecting signatures for that proposal.  It would also increase the size of the State House and cap lawmakers terms at 8 years.
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