WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly passed legislation to create new state legislative maps, advancing a hastily passed Senate bill that nefariously amends maps originally proposed by Gov. Tony Evers (D).
The maps were previously kept secret from the public and Democratic state lawmakers until their introduction in the Senate yesterday afternoon. Senate Republicans jammed through the 169-page amendment less than two hours after it was introduced, though four Republicans joined all Democrats — who have blasted the process —in opposing the bill.
Evers’ original map would cut Republicans’ Assembly majority down from 29 to seven seats, while the GOP would have a one-seat advantage in the Senate. Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, who introduced the maps, claimed the abrupt changes wouldn’t change the current partisan breakdown. Wisconsin’s current legislative maps are among the most gerrymandered in the country.
In a press conference held before the vote today, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos claimed that Republicans were “making minuscule changes to ungerrymander Gov. Evers’ maps.” Vos explained that “adding more time” to review the maps does not “help the process” and that he did not want to wait “for some expert” to give opinions on map proposals.
The move is a complete about face from just yesterday when Vos said he had “no problems” with and was “perfectly happy to adopt” Evers’ original map. Vos had also stated he was in talks with Evers over the map, which the governor’s team has since repeatedly denied.
A spokesperson for Evers said the Republican-led process was “about one thing: Republicans desperately trying to retain power,” adding that if the Legislature adopts anything other than exactly what Evers proposed, “then they aren’t the governor’s maps. Period.”
This map redraw comes just a month after the newly liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s legislative maps for violating the Wisconsin Constitution’s new contiguity requirements. The court ordered the Legislature to adopt remedial maps, but stated that if the Legislature fails to do so, the court is “prepared” to step in and adopt remedial plans. If Evers does veto the proposals, as expected, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will redraw the state’s new maps.