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Take first step on redistricting reform

Hearings this fall would get the issue out in front of the public. We know we’re asking a lot of Republicans since they’re the majority party in both the Assembly and Senate, but we’d like to remind all our lawmakers that they work for the voters, not their party leaders.

And this isn’t just a Republican issue. Over the years, we’ve been just as critical of Democrats who have failed to enact nonpartisan redistricting. Both sides must come together to make this change.

— Appleton Post-Crescent

Force the issue on redistricting

Stop bottling up reform bills in committee. Convene open public hearings on the two pieces of pending legislation — Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 185. Let the people have their say on this crucial policy subject — and open your ears and listen to them. Require the politicians to be on the record, in full view of citizens, whether they support reform or stand behind absolute partisan control of this key component for free and fair elections.

Sure, one might say majority Republicans already have expressed their view, by flatly refusing to allow discussions on reform. We don’t accept that and neither should taxpayers.

— Beloit Daily News

Redistricting bills deserve hearings

The egregious nature of the redistricting effort of the Republicans in 2011 makes this call for change even that more crucial. The maps were drawn up in secret at a law firm without any public input.

They changed voting boundaries and anyone who doesn’t believe how effective they were need only look at the November 2012 election when Republicans won more congressional districts, captured even more Assembly districts and built a state Senate majority that would withstand the vote of a defector.

At the same time, more Wisconsinites voted for Democrats than Republicans.

It’s time such redistricting nonsense was stopped.

— Green Bay Press Gazette



Let public air views in proposed reform

Dear Sen. Mary Lazich and Rep. Tyler August: What are you and your Republican leaders afraid of? You chair committees assigned to review identical Senate and Assembly bills that would create a reasonable process for drawing legislative and congressional districts, yet you won’t even schedule public hearings.

You’ve both stated your opposition publicly, and we get why. Every 10 years, whichever party is in power — Democrats and Republicans alike — has adjusted boundaries to its advantage so its members have better odds of keeping their jobs and continuing their reign. ... That doesn’t mean Wisconsinites don’t deserve a chance to voice their views in hearings.

After all, no reasonable person can look at what Republicans did in 2011 and consider it fair and objective.

— Janesville Gazette

Pivotal time for redistricting reform

The 21st Senate District, when it was comprised basically of all of Racine County, had been extremely competitive for decades.

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After redistricting in 2011, it consists mainly of non-urban areas of Racine and Kenosha counties and is likely to be a strongly Republican district. Meanwhile the urban parts of the two counties are in an overwhelmingly Democratic 22nd Senate District, which was once comprised of both urban and rural parts of Kenosha County.

Uncompetitive districts tend to produce uncompromising politicians, because there is no incentive to take centrist positions in a district that is overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic.

Wisconsin can do better, and a rising chorus of voices are saying it should do better.

— Kenosha News

Take politics out of redistricting

We must not let these bills languish. It’s important to get the public engaged in discussing the idea of moving toward a nonpartisan process of determining legislative districts.

The alternative is to stay with the same flawed system that was used in 2011 when Republican legislative leaders spent taxpayer money to hire a law firm to draw the boundaries, a process so flawed and secretive that it drew this comment from Republican-appointed Judge Judge J.P. Stadtmueller:

“The facts are the facts, and what has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency (and) secrecy.”

— La Crosse Tribune

Hearings needed on redistricting reform

Republicans in Wisconsin spent $2 million on a mostly partisan, secretive process that produced a set of maps that set up the GOP quite nicely, thank you, for the next 10 years.

The state now has no competitive congressional seats and just 15 out of 99 in the state Assembly. In the state Senate, there are, at most, only four.

Competition among political ideas is good for democracy. But the opposite also is true. When districts aren’t competitive in general elections, the real election occurs in the primary, which typically is dominated by partisans.

The result: Candidates play to the partisans — to the wings of their parties — and the debate moves away from the center, where the real work used to get done in Madison and Washington.

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Don’t let politicians kill redistricting bill

The public at least deserves a chance to learn more about these proposals.

Blatantly partisan redistricting is an embarrassment if you care about democracy. It also has real and negative effects. Politicians in “safe” districts, liberal or conservative, are driven to take extreme positions that appeal to their base rather than to the less ideologically driven median voter.

— Wausau Daily Herald

Voices calling for a hearing

For us, reform of our increasingly dysfunctional government begins with changing the way district boundaries are re-drawn every ten years. Right now the system is rigged so that lawmakers actually pick their voters rather than a system that allows for voters to determine competitive races. That will only change if honest, ethical lawmakers make it change. And that can only start with public hearings on bills mandating change.

— WISC-TV (Ch. 3)

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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