MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is proposing legislation to draw new nonpartisan legislative maps. Governor Tony Evers immediately blasted the plan though, calling it a “last-ditch effort to retain legislative control.”
The redistricting would follow the model used in Iowa, using the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau to draw the maps. If approved, the maps would be in place for the 2024 election cycle.
Under the bill, the reference bureau would report to a five-member advisory commission composed of two Democrats, two Republicans, and one person chosen by the other four. Once a map is drawn, it would then be sent to the legislature for their approval, without the ability to make any changes. If the legislature rejects the maps, the reference bureau would once again be able to draw the maps.
If rejected by the legislature a second time, then the maps would again be redrawn. But on the map’s third hearing by the legislature, lawmakers could then make amendments or draft their own maps. Those maps would ultimately need to be approved by the state Supreme Court.
Democrats were quick to criticize the new legislation. Assembly Minority leader Greta Neubauer called it “an obvious attempt to distract from their efforts to impeach Justice Protasiewicz and undermine our democracy.”
The legislation comes as Republicans continue to threaten newly elected Justice Janet Protasiewicz with impeachment. During the election, Protasiewicz called Wisconsin’s current maps “rigged.” The day after she was sworn into office, a lawsuit was filed challenging those maps. Republicans say that Protasiewicz’s comments prejudged the case, and say that she should recuse herself from the case.
Although the Republican legislation drafting new maps is in the works, Vos says that he is still looking into impeachment. He told Wisconsin Eye Wednesday that he has created a panel of former Supreme Court Justices to investigate the matter.
The bill to redraw the legislative maps will be taken up on Thursday.