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State Senator Mary Lazich Should Heed Her Own Words On Redistricting

August 19, 2013


There is more than enough blame to go around when it comes to the way Wisconsin still creates maps when it comes time for redistricting.   When Democrats had the power in both the executive and the legislative branches they let slip by a perfect chance to make a policy shift that would have greatly benefitted the state.  The same seems to be true for Republicans this session as yet another attempt has been offered to allow our state to rise above partisan spin when it comes to drawing the boundaries for legislative districts.  As of today Assembly Bill 185 and its counterpart Senate Bill 163 are only gathering dust.

Political parties have for too long used the boundaries of districts to inoculate elected officials from the need to truly compete with ideas when it comes to elections.  One of the more outstanding figures offered during the recent dialogue over immigration reform is that 70% of Republican congressional districts around the nation have less than 10% Hispanic/Latino voters.  In some cases that can be explained, but in many others it is due to crafty manipulation of district maps.  That type of political chicanery from both sides of the aisle creates far more problems when it comes to solving issues than perhaps anything else other than the heavy amounts of campaign money that is allowed to be raised.

But Wisconsin can do better.  We have a chance to lift ourselves above the fray and rancor that occurs every 10 years after the census data is gathered.  That chance is contained in the legislative bills awaiting a public hearing.

State Senator May Lazich chairs the committee that needs to hold a hearing, but has no plans to do so as she is adamantly opposed to the whole idea.  But her words from a column in the Sunday newspaper seem at odds with her stubbornness to do the people’s business as an elected official.

Representative government is the foundation of our country. People elect their  representatives. People have a basic, fundamental right to participate in  government and government decisions. If people are dissatisfied with government,  they engage friends and neighbors asking for a change in policy or change in  representatives.

That is the point, Senator.

People are dissatisfied and want a change regarding redistricting.  They have worked to make sure bills are drafted, and now request a hearing.  They deserve to be heard!

Meanwhile just over the state border in Iowa we can see a perfect example of how redistricting can be handled.

Since 1981 Iowa’s congressional and state legislative maps have been drawn by nonpartisan legislative staffers without considering voter registration numbers or the location of incumbents. Their main considerations are keeping districts compact and uniform in population.  What were the results of the efforts of the nonpartisan staffers with the redistricting cycle in 2012?

The Iowa House approved the new maps on a 90-7 vote, and the Senate weighed in with a vote in favor, 48-1.  Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican I might note, enthusiastically supported the maps.  He acknowledged that the new maps allow for  a healthy competitiveness between the two parties.  As it should be.

The problem in Wisconsin is that too many partisan heads in the Wisconsin legislature are not able to think beyond their narrow interests, and consider the greater good when it comes to redistricting.  That is sad to witness.

We are waiting, Senator.

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