Monday, August 19, 2013

Massive Statewide "Calling Out" of Sen. Lazich and Rep. August for Public Hearings on Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform Legislation

Press Release
August 19, 2013

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

Massive Statewide "Calling Out" of Sen. Lazich and Rep. August for Public Hearings on Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform Legislation

Newspaper Editorials All Over Wisconsin Support Reform and Urge Citizens to Pressure Legislature to be Responsive

On Sunday, newspaper editorials from all over Wisconsin called on the Chairs of the two state legislative committees with jurisdiction over non-partisan redistricting legislation introduced several months ago, to hold public hearings on the much-needed and widely-supported reform measures. Currently, the committee chairs and their legislative leadership are intent on just "killing" the legislation and preventing the public from having the ability to weigh in on the measures.

Both State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), the Chair of the State Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs and State Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Government Operations and State Licensing have publicly stated their opposition to the redistricting reform legislation that Common Cause in Wisconsin helped to develop and strongly supports: Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 185 (which are identical).

Okay. We get that.

We think they are wrong. But they are, of course, entitled to their opinion -- for whatever reasons. But will they continue to deny folks with a position that differs from their own even a public hearing on redistricting reform?

It really does begs the question: What are Lazich and August fearful of? For that matter what is it that their legislative leaders -- State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) are afraid of? A debate on the merits of their defense of the secret, hyper-partisan, rip-off-the-taxpayers, corrupted status quo gerrymandering that they jealously protect vs. a non-partisan, inexpensive, fair, open redistricting process that puts the interests of voters ahead of the narrow, selfish, partisan interests of incumbent legislators? And if they don't like the way we have characterized their position, then let's have a public airing of the issue!

In an unprecedented collaboration to force -- at the very least -- Lazich and August to hold public hearings on the redistricting reform proposals, newspapers from all over the state published powerful editorials yesterday. They, and we, hope this will help motivate the citizens of Wisconsin to rise up and demand public hearings for this basic, fundamental, democratic reform that won't even take effect for eight years (2021) -- when the next redistricting process occurs. But we have to move now because it becomes more difficult to accomplish this reform with each passing day as 2021 draws nearer -- something the opponents fully realize. Please take a few minutes and read these powerful editorials:

Public deserves hearing on bill for fair maps - Wisconsin State Journal
Public hearings needed on redistricting reform legislation - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Editorial: Bills that would change redistricting process deserve hearings - Green Bay Press Gazette
Take first step on redistricting reform (editorial)  - Appleton Post Crescent
Our view: Take politics out of redistricting - La Crosse Tribune
Don't let politicians kill redistricting bill without a hearing: Our View"  - Wausau Daily Herald
EDITORIAL: Force the issue on redistricting - Beloit Daily News
Our View: Time to take politics out of political boundaries"  - Chippewa Herald
Don't let politicians kill redistricting bill without a hearing: Our View  - Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Mary Lazich, herself, made the case for why there ought to be public hearings on this issue with this impassioned defense of the current, hyper-partisan, expensive and secretive redistricting process that Wisconsin utilized in 2011. We did not find it compelling in the least and she used several misleading "facts" that compared the number of Iowa and Wisconsin competitive elections, but without mentioning that they were using totally different measures of competitiveness. It is like comparing grapes to grapefruit! (We will have more on this soon). Nevertheless, Lazich and presumably Fitzgerald, August and Vos feel very strongly about their position, so let's have public hearings -- air all points of view and let the people decide. If, indeed, that is the way democracy still works.

Today, Monday at 11:00 AM, CC/WI director Jay Heck joins Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Page Editor David Haynes for an online chat about redistricting reform and these latest developments.

Now, here is where citizens must play a role in order to move redistricting reform forward. Please contact both Senator Mary Lazich and State Representative Tyler August and respectfully request that they hold public hearings on AB 185/SB 163. Then, please contact both your own State Senator and State Representative and tell them to push hard for public hearings and to take a leadership position on redistricting reform.

If you are not sure who your own legislators are (which is understandable given all the partisan gerrymandering!) go here. To contact them, go here.

This battle is just getting started and, as the Appleton Post Crescent said in their editorial Sunday, " . . . we're not going way. Redistricting reform is not going to be swept under the rug."

Let's build on this momentum, and not waste this opportunity to make our voices heard. Act today.


Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Wisconsin Budget watch blog has a great article on this.