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Pushback builds against WI redistricting bill

Word or phrase Gerrymander in a dictionary
sharafmaksumov - stock.adobe.com
Word or phrase Gerrymander in a dictionary

People advocating for fair political maps in Wisconsin hope to derail legislative efforts to overhaul the redistricting process. Pro-democracy groups gathered Monday, saying the plan would worsen the influence of gerrymandered districts. Political researchers have long noted that Wisconsin has some of the most gerrymandered maps in the U.S., and Republican lawmakers have controlled the process in recent cycles. They are now pushing through a plan to create an independent panel to draw new boundaries.

Iuscely Flores of the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition says it contains loopholes that would allow the GOP to essentially keep the reins.

"And it just seems like a huge power grab that could permanently change the process for how we draw our state maps - and it just feels like it's going to be detrimental to our communities," Flores said.

The coalition and Democratic Governor Tony Evers have embraced the idea of an independent process. But they contend this Republican plan does not have a high enough threshold to prevent the Legislature from intervening. They are urging the Senate to reject the bill, which recently cleared the Assembly. GOP leaders say it is an opportunity to adopt changes constituents have been demanding.

But skeptics say this is strictly a response to the state Supreme Court and its new liberal majority, agreeing to hear challenges to the most recent maps. Flores said while that plays out, the public does not need to be excluded from a rushed attempt to establish new rules.

"And what we need is a more independent, transparent and inclusive process, rather than what they showed us," Flres contended.

If the state Senate gives its approval, Evers has vowed to veto the bill. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the redistricting case next month. That has gained attention, with Republicans considering impeaching the newest justice, saying she should recuse herself due to comments made about the legislative boundaries during her campaign.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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