A proposal to reform how the state does Legislative redistricting faces a tough road, although the head of one government watchdog group says starting the debate now could help the proposal gain support.
A bill from Assembly Democrats would have a nonpartisan agency draw new legislative districts every ten years, instead of lawmakers. Previous efforts to make that change have failed to build up much momentum, although Jay Heck of Wisconsin Common Cause says that’s largely because they are last minute attempts that came up near the end of session and just before the redistricting process gets underway.
Heck says there are almost eight years until that process will begin again, so the key is to start building support now. However, even with an early start, he admits there’s no guarantee change will take place. Heck says he’s “not under any illusions that this is going to absolutely go steamrolling through the Wisconsin Legislature this year, but I think it’s the beginning of a process to build support from both political parties.”
Majority Republican leaders have already indicated they have no plans to take up the issue this session. Heck says the only way that position is likely to change is through public pressure, which he believes could exist after the highly contentious redistricting process last session that saw the state spend almost $2 million defending the district maps Republicans approved.
Heck says supporters of reform should move quickly while those details are still “fresh in peoples’ minds.”
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:15)