John Bambenek is a political reformer and resident of Champaign, Illinois. He is the co-founder of the Illinois Citizens Coalition and one of the chief proponents of the Constitutional Convention vote that took place in 2008. He is the principal author of the Bambenek Put-Back Amendment and author of several books, including a book on the Illinois constitution. He is considered an expert on the Illinois Constitution.
The “Bambenek Put-Back Amendment” is an extensive package of reforms designed to decentralize the power from the current stranglehold of Springfield power brokers and empower local legislators to truly represent their districts.
The amendment is carefully thought through. The primary change it would bring would make the Legislature a unicameral (one chamber body) called the Senate made of 59 districts where three Senators represent a single district. The current system, with a House and Senate body, is in a constant state of gridlock and places far too much power in the hands of the respective leaders.
It returns to “bullet voting” (voters can give all three votes to one candidate or give up to three candidates one vote). Bullet voting was repealed in 1980 and many believe that began the process of centralization of power.
Other highlights of the Bambenek Put-Back Amendment:
- Establishes term limits of four terms, maximum of eight years for every legislator.
- 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 equalizes ballot access and bans the practice of removing candidates from the ballot for spurious reasons.
The Bambenek Put-Back Amendment Petition is currently being circulated in Illinois. 500,000 signatures are required for the initiative to be placed on the ballot.
It is also designed to withstand legal challenges that are likely to be filed to keep the amendment from ever reaching the voters.
Change is desperately needed in the Prairie State and this amendment provides the tools to get the job done.