Senate Approves New Legislative Districts

7/20/11 – Wisconsin senators voted 19-to-14 Tuesday to approve new congressional and state legislative districts that were drawn up by majority Republicans. Democrats again warned that the maps were unconstitutional. And they accused the G-O-P of scrambling to try and assure themselves a decade of power before next month’s recall elections – when Republicans could lose control of the Senate. Not a single Democrat voted for the new maps. And the same was true for measures to have the Supreme Court pick judges to rule on legal challenges to the new districts. Madison Democrat Fred Risser said no other court could hear appeals – and he wondered what would happen to those turned down by the justices. Risser said the maps might be legal, but they’re not fair. He said other groups and individuals besides G-O-P lawmakers should have had a say in what they look like. Democrats accused Republicans of stepping on toes by not following local government district lines that have already been drawn. The G-O-P passed a bill to make such discrepancies legal. The Assembly will take up the redistricting bills Wednesday.

Republican Governor Scott Walker says he wants to get a good look at the maps before deciding whether to sign them into law. A number of Democrats asked why districts that were previously so compact now have to be jettisoned out for dozens of miles – over 100 miles in a northwest Wisconsin Senate district. Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald said he heard the same objections from some Republican colleagues. And he called it a challenging puzzle in which lines drawn in northwest Wisconsin affect people in the southeast. Democrat Bob Jauch of Poplar didn’t buy that. And he asked why the four major cities in central Wisconsin need two congressional representatives instead of one. The House maps move the Democratic cities of Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point to Democrat Ron Kind’s district in western Wisconsin – while Marshfield and Wausau remain under Republican Sean Duffy.