Redistricting is next legislative priority for stateNow that the state budget is approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, the next major undertaking of state government is legislative redistricting.
By: By Sen. Mary Lazich, Superior Telegram
Now that the state budget is approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, the next major undertaking of state government is legislative redistricting.
The redistricting process begins with the national census taken every 10 years. When states receive the census information, detailing the number of people living in the state and their location, states must go about redrawing Congressional and state legislative districts to reflect demographic shifts. The state legislature is charged with approving the new legislative districts through the same process as any other bill. The redistricting bill must gain approval of both houses of the legislature and have the governor’s signature to become law.
During the 10 years since the last census, Wisconsin’s population increased by about 300,000 people. The population growth did not occur evenly throughout the state. Some districts, including Senate District 28 that I represent, experienced significant population increases. Others, including northern Wisconsin districts and Milwaukee districts, experienced population decreases.
Our state Constitution requires “all senate districts, and all assembly districts, are as equal in the number of inhabitants as practicable,” an extension of the one person, one vote principle of democracy. To achieve equal representation, the entire legislative district map is redrawn after each census to assure each district includes the same, or as close to the same as possible, number of citizens. The new districts take effect beginning with the fall 2012 general election.
The target population for each new Senate district is 172,333. The ideal Assembly district is 57,444 people. The difference between the largest and smallest senate districts is just 1,076 citizens, or a deviation of 0.65 percent, well within the statutory maximum deviation of 1.05 percent.
The new Senate District 28 map includes 172,218 people, 115 fewer than the target district. Assembly District 82 includes 57,430 citizens, 14 fewer than the target district; Assembly District is 57,423, or 21 below target; and Assembly District 84 is 57,365, or 79 fewer than target.
With new maps come new boundaries. With the population growth of the past 10 years in Senate District 28, the total area of the district decreases. The villages of Mukwonago and a portion of East Troy, parts of the towns of Mukwonago, Waukesha, East Troy, the Village of East Troy and part of the city of New Berlin are part of other Senate districts under the redistricting plan.
Senate District 28 includes Assembly Districts 82, 83, and 84. Senate District 28 gains a southwest part of the city of Milwaukee and part of the town of Waukesha.
The Assembly district boundaries are also redrawn. Assembly District, 82 represented by Representative Jeff Stone includes part of Franklin and Greenfield, and all of Greendale.
Assembly District 82, represented by Rep. David Craig includes Hales Corners, part of Franklin, the town of Waterford, the village of Waterford, part of the town of East Troy, the town of Vernon, the village of Big Bend, part of the town of Waukesha and Muskego.
Assembly District 84, represented by Representative Mike Kuglitsch includes part of Greenfield, part of Milwaukee and part of New Berlin.
It has been decades since a redistricting plan was approved without intervention from the courts. The current map, created during 2002, was ultimately drawn by federal judges because Senate Democrats and Assembly Republicans did not agree on new boundaries. Likewise, during 1992 attorneys for Democrats and Republicans advocated for different plans, with federal judges ultimately deciding on the final borders.
The last time redistricting occurred through legislation was during 1983. With Democrats in control of the State Senate, State Assembly and the Governorship, redistricting legislation was approved and signed into law in just four days. This came after the legislature tried to approve redistricting as part of the budget and the governor vetoed it. The current redistricting plan was introduced 11 days before scheduled — July 19 — Senate floor action.
Court battles are time-consuming and expensive. The 2002 court battle cost taxpayers over $1 million in legal fees. Fortunately, with Republicans in control of both houses of the legislature, we may be able to approve the redistricting bill without federal intervention.
If you have comments on this or any other issue, please contact me at Sen.Lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov, www.senatorlazich.com, Senator Mary Lazich, State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882 Madison, WI 53707 or 1-800-334-1442. Lazich is a Republican representing New Berlin, Wis.