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Nonpartisan redistricting bill passed by Assembly

A new way your voting districts are created is one step closer to reality after a 64-32 vote on Thursday. The Wisconsin State Assembly passed the nonpartisan redistricting bill co-written by Sturgeon Bay Republican State Rep. Joel Kitchens largely along party lines, with State Rep. LaKeisha Myers the lone Democrat to vote in favor of it. Instead of the Legislature drawing the maps, the state would institute a system similar to what is done in Iowa where a nonpartisan legislative staff would do the work and present their proposal to the Legislature. If proposals are not approved after three tries, they would be placed under the review of the state Supreme Court. Kitchens said earlier in the week that it has worked well for Iowa and other states that have mimicked the model.

While Republicans have said this is one issue many of their constituents have harped on them for years, Democrats and voter advocacy groups are weary of their change of heart after the two sides sparred over the issue for well over a decade. On Thursday before the vote took place, Jay Heck of Common Cause Wisconsin explained why he and others are skeptical of the proposal.

On Friday, Marquette Law School Lubar Center Research Fellow John D. Johnson offered his thoughts on the bill, saying that the amendments that were added would create “truly nonpartisan, independent redistricting in Wisconsin.” The amendments make it so the Wisconsin Legislature has to host more public meetings, approve maps on a bipartisan basis, and can only vote on maps created by the Legislative Reference Bureau. The bill still has to go through the Wisconsin Senate and be signed by Governor Tony Evers in order for it to be enacted.

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