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League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski

League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski

League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski has not set their biography yet

LWV WI Calls On Lawmakers To End Gerrymandering

Posted by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski
League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski
League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 13 February 2019
in Wisconsin

voter-primariesWisconsin legislature should establish a redistricting system similar to that in Iowa says nonpartisan political organization.


MADISON, WI - With a legacy going back almost a century and a presence in all 50 states, the League of Women Voters takes the long view on how voting district maps are drawn. In Wisconsin the League has been active on apportionment and redistricting since the 1930s. Through the decades our stance has sometimes lined up with that of one major political party or the other, but that is not because we have changed our minds about where we stand.

The Wisconsin League adopted a position in the 1970s favoring voting maps drawn by a nonpartisan entity, rather than by the legislators who might want to ensure their own job security by creating “safe” districts. It’s the voters who should choose their representatives, not the other way around. Currently we support having a nonpartisan legislative agency draw the maps, a plan that has worked well in Iowa since 1980. Over the years our position has not sat well with the party in power.

In a 1989 letter to the League, Assembly Speaker Dave Travis, a liberal Democrat, blasted the League for our position favoring an independent commission. He said the League “allowed itself to be used for partisan political purposes on behalf of the Republican Party of Wisconsin during the 1980s redistricting process.”

That was then. Now it’s the Republican legislators who oppose nonpartisan redistricting. That party’s leaders have refused to even hold a public hearing for the “Iowa Plan” bill which was introduced in each of the past four sessions. The Democrats, on the other hand, may be wishing they had followed the League’s advice in the 1980s or in the 2009 legislative session, when their party controlled both houses of the legislature and governor’s office.

wi-dist-maps-currentWhat has changed between the 1980s and today? Not the League’s position. All that has changed is which party is in power. The party in power got there through the current system and is often reluctant to make any changes. This is happening in both red states and blue states around the country. In Maryland and New Jersey, the League has recently fought against gerrymandering by the Democrats.

This battle really is between the party leaders, much more than the public. The latest Marquette University Law School Poll found that 72 percent of likely voters, including 63 percent of Republican leaners and 83 percent of Democratic leaners, say they would prefer to have district maps drawn by a nonpartisan commission.

It is expected that a new bill will be introduced soon in the Wisconsin legislature to establish a redistricting system similar to that in Iowa. If enacted, this would result in fair districts for voters rather than safe districts for politicians. It would cost taxpayers well under $100,000 every ten years, with most of that spent on public hearings held around the state to get public input. Compare that to the $3 million and counting that has already been spent or committed to have a private law firm draw the voting maps back in 2011 and then have the state defend the gerrymandered districts in the courts.

When this legislation is introduced it should have a public hearing and a vote in both houses of the state legislature, and then Governor Evers should sign it into law. In addition, nonpartisan redistricting should be incorporated into the biennial state budget, which will be in effect through June of 2020. Given that the nonpartisan process will be less expensive than what we have had in the past, it will free up needed tax dollars for better pursuits than rigged districts.

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Andrea Kaminski is the Legislative Coordinator for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is a nonpartisan political organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 20 local Leagues throughout Wisconsin. More information at lwvwi.org

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Proponents of Constitutional Convention Should Try Governing Instead

Posted by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski
League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski
League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 07 June 2017
in Wisconsin

lady-liberty-holding-noseWisconsin Assembly scheduled to call next week for a federal constitutional convention to add a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It's a bad idea, says League of Women Voters.


MADISON – The Wisconsin Assembly is tentatively scheduled to vote next week on proposals calling for a federal constitutional convention for the purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We respect people’s concerns about the federal debt, but this is the wrong way to tackle that problem. It is also a particularly dangerous path to take.

First, a balanced budget requirement would weaken our ability as a nation to respond to unforeseen emergencies, such as a natural disaster, attack from the outside or economic recession. The federal government would not be able to respond without increasing taxes – just at a time when fewer people might be working.

Second, a constitutional amendments convention could go in many different directions. It would put at risk every citizen right currently protected in the Constitution, including such things as voting rights and freedom of speech.

Proponents note that one of the proposals before the Assembly would restrict the role of our own state’s delegates to voting only on a budget amendment at the convention, but that ignores the fact that our state would be only one of fifty at the convention. Besides, some constitutional experts say that such rules could easily be considered irrelevant once the gathering convenes.

Proponents of these disastrous proposals say that a constitutional convention is needed because we can’t count on Congress to pass a balanced budget. They point out that the elected representatives of the people, including many who are all for a balanced budget when they are running for office, shy away from enacting it once elected. Come to think of it, that seems to happen at both the federal and state level.

It is ironic that these proposals are being promoted in Wisconsin by the party that is in the majority in both Congress and the state legislature. Why should the U.S. Constitution be at risk for complete revision just so these politicians can accomplish what they already have the power to do legislatively?

voter-usI would like to believe there are enough members among their ranks who know that a balanced budget requirement is not a responsible measure for protecting the safety and economic security of our nation or state. But if they are that wise, why would they risk what could be a catastrophic assault on our Constitution?

Maybe they think it would never really happen. However, if the Wisconsin legislature passes these proposals, our state would be number 30 out of the 34 states needed to force a constitutional convention.

Our nation is changing, and that change is taking place in every state and every district. With a provision to add amendments individually as needed, the U.S. Constitution has afforded us the flexibility for more than 200 years to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the American people.

Assembly lawmakers who take their responsibility of governing seriously should reject these foolhardy proposals, which would endanger our citizen rights and our nation’s ability to respond to emergencies.

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