Please, Rep. Weininger, tell us more

A KEY STATE LAWMAKER finally jumped into the statewide debate over how best to draw voting district maps across Wisconsin.

Rep. Chad Weininger, R-Green Bay, wrote a short column last week for his hometown newspaper, the Green Bay Press Gazette, calling the Iowa model to end gerrymandering “a gimmick.”

We welcome Weininger’s input on the important issue of redistricting reform. In fact, we’d love to hear more. Let’s keep the dialog going, Rep. Weininger, with an official public hearing - something newspaper editorial boards (including the Press Gazette’s) and citizens across Wisconsin have been seeking for months.

Is a public hearing, Rep. Weininger, in front of your Assembly State Affairs and Government Operations Committee, really so much to ask?

Let’s hear your concerns about Assembly Bill 185 in detail, which a hearing would allow. And if you are right - if the bill really is flawed - then let’s fix it. But don’t shut down the legislative process without a real discussion.

In his column last week, Weininger complained about “a lot of spin in the media that would lead the public to believe that this is a meaningful proposal that would have a positive impact on the future of our state.”

We’re all for meaningful and positive impacts for Wisconsin - guilty as charged there. But far from spin, we’re pushing the very law that Republicans and Democrats alike say has worked well in Iowa, leading to near-unanimous votes for congressional and legislative district maps there following each major census.

Iowa also enjoys more competitive elections.

And unlike Wisconsin, Iowa doesn’t spend millions of taxpayer dollars defending rigged maps in court.

In his column, Weininger argued AB 185 would be “unenforceable.” He suggested newspaper editorial boards and the public have been duped because “members of the 2020 Legislature will be able to use any redistricting process they so choose,” even if AB 185 is on the books.

Yes, under the Iowa model, the legislature could undermine fair maps by repeatedly rejecting revised versions drawn by a nonpartisan state agency.

But Iowa’s legislature hasn’t done that. Iowa’s lawmakers for decades have respected the work of their trusted agency, which operates under strict rules encouraging fairness. The results are compact districts with more choice for voters - all at virtually no cost.

Maybe Wisconsin’s leaders are more devious than those in Iowa. Maybe Iowa’s nonpartisan bill isn’t strong enough to withstand the partisan scheming in Madison. Maybe a constitutional amendment - as originally proposed by reformers here - makes the most sense to stop the politicians from drawing outlandish maps.

A public hearing is the best way to find out what’s best for Wisconsin. — Wisconsin State Journal, Feb. 5

At issue:
Non-partisan redistricting
Bottom line:
Bill deserves a hearing

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