Two state lawmakers called for redistricting reform today only to be shot down minutes later by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
The plan championed at a press conference by Sens. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) and Tim Cullen (D-Janesville) and Wisconsin Common Cause would turn over the responsibility of drawing maps to a nonpartisan state agency.
It would mirror the law in Iowa, where as Cullen noted the districts form a grid of fairly uniform squares and rectangles that covers the state. Iowa’s map poses a stark contrast to the oddly-shaped districts in Wisconsin and Illinois where single-party control lets legislators draw maps that favor them.
Cullen says it's that very gerrymandering that's keeping GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin from holding a hearing on this bill. “They know that killing these bills does not irritate their political base, and in a gerrymandered district that's all they have to worry about.”
Schultz said he thought a non-partisan redistricting process would make Wisconsin less polarized. “I think incumbents wouldn't have the idea that they could control their districts in the future – that they could pick their constituents rather than their constituents picking their legislators.”
Schultz challenged legislative leaders to take a stand on redistricting reform.
Fitzgerald issued a statement just minutes after the press conference, calling legislative reapportionment “one of the most important duties that the legislature is required to perform under the Constitution.” He added that he had “no interest in turning that duty over to an unelected, unaccountable board.”