Despite outcries from local government and growing constitutionality concerns, Republican senators hurriedly passed their redistricting maps that remained secret until recently.
Republican legislators began working on the new district maps months ago in secret and behind closed doors. The maps did not become available to the public until Friday, July 8. Further decreasing transparency, Republicans opted to fast-track their redistricting plan by scheduling a vote less than two weeks after the release of the new district maps, leaving little time for public input.
“Over the course of 10 days, Republicans have perpetrated a power grab that will impact our communities for the next 10 years,” said Sen. Chris Larson (D–Milwaukee).
Rushing through the current redistricting proposal created by Republican legislators and the lawyers they hired with taxpayer dollars will have a detrimental impact on our local governments as well. Republicans have been so focused on passing redistricting legislation before the recall elections have concluded that they are acting before all local governments have even submitted their local ward redistricting maps.
“I find it amazing that the last vote Republican senators up for recall will have to take is a vote of no confidence in themselves,” said Sen. Larson.
As a result of the preemptive actions by Republicans on redistricting, the City of Milwaukee, for example, will be forced to change 55 of its 315 wards and 9 of its 15 aldermanic district boundaries. These changes come after Milwaukee has already held four public hearings, participated in three public listening sessions, held two full-day public workshops for citizens to produce their own maps, and conducted countless informational briefings to individuals and activist groups. Milwaukee has also already spent over $40,000 for dedicated labor hours and administrative expenses related to the redistricting process.
“There is no reason why the state should be moving at such a careless speed,” said Sen. Larson. “Such actions will negate months of work by local officials, circumvent the open and transparent public hearing process and waste additional taxpayer funds.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Mike Tate spoke out against the Senate passage of the Republican redistricting plan as well.
“The redistricting plan, conceived in darkness and bypassing Wisconsin’s localities, violates our state’s traditions and exposes Scott Walker, Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican cadres for what they are: Tools of the special interests consumed with drawing all power unto themselves.
The process and the map itself strikes against the democratic ideals that built our state and spurns more than a century of norms and standards meant so that Wisconsin’s communities are represented properly. In their blind desire to accrue all power, this gang in Madison has set a terrible precedent. In less than 10 days, and with an infinitesimal amount of community input, they drew political maps meant to last 10 years.
This redistricting will void the work already underway in local communities who expected a responsible Legislature, this redistricting will increase the divisive partisanship that has been Scott Walker’s calling card, and this redistricting will go one more step into removing people from our government processes.
The Republican legacy under Scott Walker rule continues to grow in ways that stain and offend our shared history. And today’s shabby redistricting power grab should send another shock into the grass-roots recall movement that even now is mustering to take back Wisconsin.”