Wisconsin senators hear complaints about proposed redistricting committee



(The Center Square) – They don’t like it. And they don’t trust it.

Dozens of advocates and Wisconsin voters turned out at a statehouse hearing Thursday to urge lawmakers not to change how Wisconsin draws its political maps.

“I’ve been working on redistricting for a long time now and I really, really want fair maps,” Kate Levey, from Wauwatosa, told lawmakers. “A lot of people that have been working on redistricting want fair maps. We don’t want an edge for Democrats or Republicans or anybody else. We want fair maps.”

The plan that was before the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection would create an Iowa-style committee that would draw Wisconsin’s congressional and statehouse maps. Lawmakers would then vote on them.

Advocates say they don’t trust the Republican-controlled legislature to draw non-politicized maps.

“This bill does not assure a transparent, non-partisan redistricting process. In fact, it allows for the political party in control of the legislature to draw their own gerrymandered maps,” Myra Enlow said.

The new redistricting plan would have the Legislative Research Bureau draw the maps and would only allow lawmakers to vote approve or not approve those maps. Lawmakers could not change the LRB proposed districts.

Sen. Romaine Quinn, R-Cameron, questioned Levey and other “fair map” advocates if they simply wanted to cut the Republican-controlled legislature out of redistricting, and leave the map-making to the new liberal-majority Wisconsin Supreme Court.

“I’m trying to think of all the scenarios that we think are silver bullets,” Quinn said. “But at the end of the day they could actually take us backwards.”

Democrats had, for years, called for an Iowa-style map making commission in Wisconsin, but they’ve backed away since the Wisconsin Supreme Court flipped to a liberal majority.

A handful of progressive groups have asked the Court to redraw the state’s political maps, claiming they are unconstitutionally drawn, before next year’s elections.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos introduced a Wisconsin commission mapmaking process last month as a way to head-off that lawsuit.

The Assembly has already approved the commission plan. It’s due for a vote in the Senate this next.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the redistricting case next month.



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