What’s Putback Do?

The Bambenek Put-Back Amendment is designed to decentralize the power in the Legislature so that local legislators have the ability to represent their districts instead of representing the interests of Springfield power brokers.  It is also designed to withstand legal challenges that are likely to be filed to keep the amendment from ever reaching the voters. The General Assembly has no ability to modify this language nor can they prevent the amendment from reaching the ballot.  The only recourse they have is the courts to declare the amendment unconstitutional, and the amendment was written with that in mind (as well as having a federal court challenge to force the state to put the amendment for a vote).

The amendment primarily makes the Legislature a unicameral (one chamber body) called the Senate made of 59 districts where 3 Senators represent a single district. It returns Illinois to “bullet voting” which we had prior to 1980 (its repeal resulting in the centralized power we see today).

What this means is that a voter can give all three votes to one candidate or give up to three candidates one vote.  It ensures minority representation in every district.

In addition to this, the Bambenek Put-Back Amendment does the following:

  • Establishes term limits of four terms, maximum of eight years for every legislator.  The Legislature is a part-time body, it makes no sense for people to use it for a political career.
  • It limits legislative leaders (Senate President, minority leader, committee chairs) to a maximum of two terms, or four years.
  • It reforms redistricting so that legislative maps are drawn on objective criteria instead of the current method where politicians pick their voters to ensure their reelection.
  • It requires 7-day public viewing of all legislation before the final vote.
  • It allows 25 (of 177) Senators to force an up or down vote on any legislation.
  • It equalizes ballot access and bans the practice of removing candidates from the ballot for spurious reasons.  The right to vote doesn’t make sense if they don’t give you choices.
  • It repeals the amendatory veto which was abused to a great degree by former Governor Blagojevich.
  • It prohibits the practice of “shell bills”, the method of using literally empty legislation to allow for backroom negotiation of legislation.
  • Makes related changes to handle transition from bicameral to unicameral legislature.

For more information, please take a look at the FAQ page to get more ideas of the basics of why the amendment was structured the way it was and why certain things were included.

Please feel free to view the full text at the link to the left or contact the principal author, John Bambenek for more information.