Monday, July 15, 2019

"Iowa Model" Redistricting Reform Legislation Publicly Presented



For Release: Monday - July 15, 2019


Tuesday, July 16th at 10:30 AM - Assembly Parlor, State Capitol

On May 8th, Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), and their GOP minions on the Legislative Joint Finance Committee (JFC) stripped the redistricting reform provision proposal that Gov. Tony Evers had inserted in his 2019-2021 state budget proposal.

The measure is based on Iowa's redistricting process which was developed and enacted into law in Iowa by Republican Governor Robert Ray and a Republican-controlled Legislature (both chambers) in 1980.

Now, out of the state budget, the "Iowa Model" redistricting measure has been introduced, with bi-partisan support, in the Wisconsin Legislature as "stand alone" legislation and on Tuesday, July 16th, it will be formally "rolled out" by the lead sponsors at 10:30 AM in the Assembly Parlor of the State Capitol. CC/WI Chair, former State Senator Tim Cullen will speak in favor of the measure on behalf of CC/WI.

In the State Senate, the lead sponsor is Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who has introduced Senate Bill 288. In the Assembly, the lead sponsor is Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Waukesha), who has introduced an identical measure, Assembly Bill 303.

They will speak at the press conference with Cullen and other reformers.

You can attend the press conference, too, if you are available and would like to join us.

It is vitally important for you to do your part to help make ending partisan gerrymandering a reality in Wisconsin before 2021, when the next redistricting process will occur, following the 2020 Census. This week, contact both your state senator and your state representative and demand that they co-sponsor and support Senate Bill 288 and/or Assembly Bill 303. If you are not sure who your state senator and/or state representative is, go here.

These measures have overwhelming citizen support all throughout Wisconsin. Now, state legislators need to adhere to the demands of their constituents to defy Vos and Fitzgerald and do the right thing. Support fair maps! Some legislators and their staff may tell you the U.S. Supreme Court has now said that their current, partisan gerrymandering system is the only way the redistricting process can occur. That is a bald-faced lie! They absolutely could and should adopt the fair, non-partisan legislation (SB 288/AB 303), now ready for a public hearing and consideration by the full Wisconsin Legislature tomorrow, if they put the the public interest ahead of their narrow, partisan interest.

For your information, you can watch this very recent video (taped July 11th) about the June 27th U.S. Supreme Court decision on partisan gerrymandering and the path forward for ending it Wisconsin on Wisconsin Eye, featuring CC/WI Director Jay Heck and UW-Madison Professors David Canon and Rob Yablon.

Take action. Make your voices heard. Never, ever surrender. On Wisconsin!





CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)





Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
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Monday, July 1, 2019

"Iowa Model" Anti Gerrymandering Legislation Not Affected by Terrible Supreme Court Decision



For Release: Monday - July 1, 2019

Editorial Cartoon by Phil Hands of the Wisconsin State Journal - 6/30/19

With Federal Courts Now Out of the Fight, It's Entirely Up to We, The People

Last Thursday's narrow (5 to 4) but terrible decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not inject itself, or other federal courts into the question of whether or not hyper-partisan redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts could deny voters equal protection under the law and infringe on their First Amendment right to have their votes count as much as any other voter (it can and does) was deeply disturbing, disappointing and disgusting. But it was not, in the least bit, surprising.

The June 27th SCOTUS decision in Rucho v. Common Cause was pre-ordained when moderate conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retired a year a go and was replaced on the nation's highest court by Trump's selection, the ultra-conservative, partisan, and ill-tempered Brett Kavanaugh.

But the Supreme Court did not foreclose the possibility or ability of states to end partisan gerrymandering. Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts decried the partisan map drawing and practically begged states to enact such reforms even as he cowardly backed away from utilizing legitimate judicial power to strike down unfair voting maps.

For years, we have been working on the advancement of redistricting reform under the assumption that we cannot depend on the courts to get this done. We have always believed that it is up to we, the people, who must eventually prevail over the hyper-politically partisan bosses of Wisconsin and their minions who have defended partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, unlimited, secret special interest money, and anything else they can do to hold on to power – at any cost to taxpayers – the public be damned.

The U.S. Supreme Court has run away to hide. So be it. Onward and upward.

In May, Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), and their GOP acolytes on the Legislative Joint Finance Committee (JFC) stripped the redistricting reform provision proposal that Gov. Tony Evers has inserted in his 2019-2021 state budget proposal.

Dozens of Wisconsinites testified in strong support of the "Iowa Model" redistricting reform measure at the four state budget hearings the JFC held around Wisconsin (in Janesville, Oak Creek, River Falls and Green Bay) during the month of April.

Nobody spoke against it.

The legislation is based on Iowa's redistricting process which was developed and enacted into law in Iowa by Republican Governor Robert Ray and a Republican-controlled Legislature (both chambers) in 1980.

Now, out of the state budget, the "Iowa Model" redistricting measure has been introduced, with bi-partisan support, in the Wisconsin Legislature as "stand alone" legislation.

In the State Senate, the lead sponsor is Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who has introduced Senate Bill 288. In the Assembly, the lead sponsor is Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Waukesha), who has introduced an identical measure, Assembly Bill 303.

Now, it is time for you to do your part to help make ending partisan gerrymandering a reality in Wisconsin before 2021, when the next redistricting process will occur, following the 2020 Census. This week, before the 4th of July, please contact both your state senator and your state representative and demand that they co-sponsor and support Senate Bill 288 and/or Assembly Bill 303. If you are not sure who your state senator and/or state representative is, go here.

These measures have overwhelming citizen support all throughout Wisconsin. Now, state legislators need to adhere to the demands of their constituents to defy Vos and Fitzgerald and do the right thing. Support fair maps! Some legislators and their staff may tell you the U.S. Supreme Court has now said that their current, partisan gerrymandering system is the only way the redistricting process can occur. That is a bald-faced lie! They absolutely could and should adopt the fair, non-partisan legislation (SB 288/AB 303), now ready for a public hearing and consideration by the full Wisconsin Legislature tomorrow, if they put the the public interest ahead of their narrow, partisan interest.

Here is more information about the "Iowa Model" reform measure and about the redistricting process in Wisconsin. You can also watch and listen to this video about the redistricting reform process in Wisconsin.

Above all, take action. Make your voices heard. Never, ever surrender. On Wisconsin!





CONTACT:

Jay Heck
608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)





Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI  53703
608/256-2686

Want Good Government?
Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



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Monday, June 24, 2019

Counties in 32 of 33 WI State Senate Districts & 91 of 99 Assembly Districts Back Ending Partisan Gerrymandering



For Release: Monday - June 24, 2019


Overwhelming Public Support for Redistricting Reform Statewide

Citizen voters and their local elected officials throughout Wisconsin overwhelmingly support ending partisan gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional districts, an analysis by CC/WI Board member and former state representative Penny Bernard Schaber demonstrates.

Bernard Schaber examined the 47 (of the 72 total) counties whose county boards have passed resolutions in support of ending partisan gerrymandering as well as the eight counties in which voters have supported referendums supporting a non-partisan state redistricting process. She found:

  • 32 of Wisconsin's 33 State Senate Districts contain counties in which either the county board passed a non-partisan redistricting reform resolution, or a referendum, or both. Only the 33rd District (parts of Dodge, Washington, and Waukesha Counties) contains none of the counties where the county board or voters supported redistricting reform, thus far.


  • 91 of Wisconsin's 99 State Assembly Districts contain counties in which the county board passed a non-partisan redistricting reform resolution, or a referendum, or both.

  • Earlier this year, a Marquette University Law School poll found that 72 percent of Wisconsinites support ending partisan gerrymandering and adopting a non-partisan redistricting process such as Iowa's. 62 percent of all Republicans support this, the poll found.

    "Voters and county boards across Wisconsin overwhelming support ending the current system in which elected representative choose their voters and not the other way around, as it ought to be," said Bernard Schaber, who represented Appleton in the State Assembly from 2007 to 2015.

    "Wisconsin state legislators need to heed the demands of their constituents to adopt a fair, nonpartisan system, like the system Republicans put in place in Iowa in 1980, and do it before the upcoming 2021 redistricting process begins in Wisconsin," she added.

    Bipartisan-supported, "stand alone" redistricting reform legislation to institute the "Iowa Model" for Wisconsin has just been introduced in both legislative chambers as Assembly Bill 303 and Senate Bill 288. Governor Tony Evers had included the measure in his 2019-2021 biennium state budget proposal earlier this year, but Republicans on the legislative Joint Committee on Finance removed it in May.

    Bernard Schaber's chart showing county board and referendum support for nonpartisan redistricting by State Senate districts is here, and by State Assembly districts, here.

    Citizens should contact both their State Senator and their State Representative and demand their support and co-sponsorship of the "Iowa Model" redistricting reform legislation, Assembly Bill 303/Senate Bill 288. Tell them we need fair voting maps now.

    Sign this petition in support of the Iowa Model legislation, if you haven't yet done so. If you have, urge others to sign it. We would like to present the Legislature with 5,000 signatures from all over Wisconsin in the near future. We are closing in on that number so please help us get there!

    Never surrender! On Wisconsin!




    CONTACT:

    Jay Heck
    608/256-2686 (office)
    608/512-9363 (cell)





    Common Cause in Wisconsin
    152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
    Madison, WI  53703
    608/256-2686

    Want Good Government?
    Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
    www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



    Read More...


    Wednesday, May 22, 2019

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice-Elect Hagedorn’s “Gratitude” to Republican Party Underscores Necessity for Stronger Recusal Rules



    Wednesday - May 22, 2018


    By Jay Heck

    Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn very narrowly won the State Supreme Court election on April 2nd to replace retiring former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. He benefited from the active organizational and financial support of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) and other partisan organizations, particularly in the last several weeks prior to the election.

    In what may be an action unprecedented in state political history, Hagedorn addressed the RPW state convention in Oshkosh last week, specifically to thank Republican activists for strongly supporting his candidacy. “When I got punched, you were the ones who punched back,” Hagedorn said to the party faithful. “When I got knocked down, you grabbed the baton and kept running with it.”

    Hagedorn says he will be impartial when he is sworn in as a justice later this Summer. But in the absence of stronger recusal rules for Wisconsin judges, will he really be impartial, objective, and beholden only to the law and not his supporters?

    Wisconsin currently has the 47th weakest recusal rules in the nation when it comes to judges having to recuse themselves if they are the recipients of significant campaign contributions or the beneficiaries of so-called “independent” election spending. Essentially, judges decide for themselves whether to recuse themselves from a case in which a party before the court has been a campaign contributor above a certain threshold.

    This very weak rule was written by two independent special interest groups – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association and adopted verbatim by conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2010.

    Proposals to strengthen recusal rules since that time have been rejected, most recently in 2017 when conservatives rejected a petition submitted by 54 retired jurists for strong recusal rules and refused to hold even a public hearing on the matter.

    During the campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this year, Hagedorn indicated he was not supportive of stronger recusal rules while his opponent, Wisconsin Court of Appeals Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer said she thought stronger rules ought to be considered, and supported holding a public hearing to receive input on the issue.

    Now that Judge Hagedorn has expressed his deep gratitude to partisans for their help in his election, how can the public be confident that he will be strictly impartial in his application of the law? What assurance would a Democratic or progressive individual or entity appearing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court have that Hagedorn would be fair and non-partisan in his decision-making process?

    That’s why strong recusal rules are so important and needed in Wisconsin.

    Public confidence in the impartiality and fairness of our state courts had fallen dramatically over the last decade. Adoption of stronger recusal rules by the Wisconsin Supreme Court would help restore that necessary confidence. Judge Hagedorn could initiate that process and raise public confidence in his own upcoming first term on the court by joining the call for stronger rules.




    CONTACT:

    Jay Heck
    608/256-2686 (office)
    608/512-9363 (cell)




    Common Cause in Wisconsin
    152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
    Madison, WI  53703
    608/256-2686

    Want Good Government?
    Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!
    www.CommonCauseWisconsin.org



    Read More...