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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

 5:51 PM 

Assembly moves slowly on redistricting

The Assembly is informal pending a Dem point of order on redisticting legislation.

Rep. Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis, argued that the bill was not properly before the body due to violations of the Voting Rights Act.

"This map 'cracks' ... the minority populations of Beloit and Racine," Staskunas said, urging Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Kramer to rule in favor of his point of order.

"We cannot ignore federal law and federal statute."

Prior to the measure, the Assembly rejected a motion to refer the bill back to committee 38-59.

Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, called for Republicans to slow down, alleging that they've moved the new maps through quickly because "trajectory lines are going the wrong way for your side of the aisle" ahead of next month's recall elections.

Barca said the maps would create fewer competitive districts, in contrast to the direction most states are moving.

"It's an insult to our constituents," Barca said.

Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, predicted that the proposal wouldn't survive a court challenge. He also charged that the maps violate the federal Voting Rights Act, particularly with regard to the Hispanic community in the 8th AD, and said many African-American constituencies in GOP seats are removed under the new districts.

Kessler said the maps reflected "classic gerrymandering," arguing that under the proposed seats, George W. Bush would have won 59 Assembly districts in 2004 even though John Kerry took the state in a 50-50 election.

"This is the most vicious abuse of partisan power that I have ever seen in the Wisconsin Legislature," Kessler said.

UPDATE -- 6:05 p.m.: The Assembly is back in session. Speaker Pro Tempore Kramer has ruled the point of order not well taken, and an appeal fails 39-58.

We're now onto Dem amendments.


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