2001 - 2002 LEGISLATURE
February 26, 2001 - Introduced by
Committee onSenate Organization. Referred
to Committee on Senate Organization.
1An Act to repeal
5.15 (2) (e), 5.15 (2) (f), 5.15 (5), 62.08 (2), 66.0217 (13) and 2
66.0227 (6); to renumber and amend
5.15 (2) (d) and 59.10 (3) (c); to amend
5.15 (1) (a), 5.15 (1) (b), 5.15 (1) (c), 5.15 (2) (b) 1., 5.15 (2) (b) 2., 5.15 (2) (b) 3., 4
5.15 (2) (b) 4., 5.15 (2) (bm), 5.15 (2) (cm), 5.15 (2) (g), 5.15 (4) (a), 5.15 (4) (b), 5
5.15 (6) (a), 5.15 (7), 5.15 (8), 59.10 (2) (a), 59.10 (3) (b) 1., 59.10 (3) (b) 2., 59.10 6
(3) (b) 4., 59.10 (6), 62.08 (1), 66.0217 (9) (a), 66.0217 (9) (b), 66.0221, 66.0223 7
and 119.08 (1) (b); and to create
5.15 (2) (b) (intro.), 5.15 (2) (ce), 5.15 (2) (d) 1. 8
to 5., 5.15 (2) (fm), 5.15 (4) (c), 20.510 (1) (kb), 59.10 (3) (b) 2m., 59.10 (3) (c) 2. 9
and 66.0217 (9) (d) of the statutes; relating to: division of municipalities into
10wards; redistricting of supervisory and aldermanic districts; election districts
11in 1st class city school systems; recording of certain municipal annexations; the
1effective date of certain annexation and detachment actions; and making an
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes various changes in the laws relating to municipal wards, county
supervisory districts, city aldermanic districts, election districts in first class city
school systems, and municipal annexations and detachments.
Municipal ward plan revisions
Currently, under the state constitution, the legislature is directed to redistrict
legislative districts according to the number of inhabitants at its next session
following each federal census. At the same intervals, the legislature also
reapportions congressional districts in this state pursuant to federal law. Under
current state law, following each decennial federal census, most municipalities are
also required to divide their territory into wards, and counties and cities are required
to redistrict supervisory and aldermanic districts so that the districts contain, as
nearly as practicable, an equal number of inhabitants according to the census
results. With limited exceptions, wards are required to consist of one or more whole,
contiguous census blocks (the smallest geographic units for which census results are
available). Counties and municipalities are required to complete this action in three
steps, which in no case may conclude later than 180 days after publication of the
census results (usually by October of the year following the year of the census). If
counties or municipalities fail to adopt division plans, the courts may do so upon
petition by interested parties. Revised supervisory and aldermanic district plans are
used to elect members of county boards of supervisors and common councils in the
spring of the second year following the year of the census. The legislative and
congressional redistricting plans are used to elect members of the legislature and
members of congress in the fall of the second year following the year of the census.
Currently, the legislature may adjust the boundaries of a municipal ward and use the
revised ward boundaries to create a legislative or congressional district.
This bill amends various laws to facilitate the legislative and congressional
redistricting process and directs counties and municipalities to revise their ward and
districting plans to reflect any legislative act establishing a legislative or
congressional district boundary that does not coincide with a ward or municipal
County supervisory district plans
Currently, within 60 days after publication of the federal decennial census
results, each county must adopt a tentative county supervisory district plan. Each
municipality must adopt a decennial ward plan, if it is required to have wards, within
60 days after adoption of a tentative county supervisory district plan by the county
or counties in which the municipality is located, and each county then must adopt
a final supervisory district plan within 60 days after every municipality in the county
adopts a decennial ward plan, if it is required to do so.
Currently, each tentative county supervisory district plan must include
suggested boundaries or information concerning the number of supervisors to be
elected and a description of boundary requirements. This bill provides for the
tentative plan to include specific boundaries for each proposed supervisory district.
The bill also provides that, except in counties having a population of 500,000 or more,
the county board must attempt to incorporate suggestions received from
municipalities into the tentative plan, to the extent feasible. The bill also provides
that a final county supervisory district plan must not be inconsistent with the
tentative plan except to reflect an authorized change made by a municipality in a
municipal ward division or to reflect an official correction to the census.
Accommodation of county requirements
Currently, each municipality must make a good faith effort to accommodate the
tentative plan submitted by the county or counties in which it is located in adopting
its decennial ward plan. This bill requires that each municipality establish wards
that will permit creation of county supervisory districts in accordance with each
tentative plan unless the tentative plan would: 1) unduly dilute the voting strength
of a racial or language minority group; 2) require the creation of a ward composed of
noncontiguous territory, with limited exceptions; 3) require the creation of a ward
composed of territory that is not as compact as practicable; 4) unduly bifurcate a
manifest social, economic, or political community of interest; or 5) require the
creation of a ward that would unduly favor a particular person or political party.
Minimum populations for wards
Currently, a municipality having a population of less than 10,000 may create
a ward with no fewer than 300 inhabitants. A municipality having a population of
at least 10,000 but less than 39,000 may create a ward with no fewer than 600
inhabitants. A municipality having a population of at least 39,000 but less than
150,000 may create a ward with no fewer than 800 inhabitants. Every other
municipality may create a ward with no fewer than 1,000 inhabitants.
This bill eliminates these minimum ward population requirements.
Creation of wards that subdivide blocks
Under current law, with certain limited exceptions, municipal wards must
consist of whole census blocks. Currently, an institution such as a prison or center
for the developmentally disabled may itself be a whole census block. In this case,
unless one of the limited exceptions applies, the entire institution must be included
in a single municipal ward, even if all or most of the residents of the institution are
not eligible to vote in an election. The district in which such an institution is located
may, as a result, have a significantly lower voting population than the other districts
within the municipality in which the district is located.
This bill creates a new exception authorizing a municipality, in creating wards,
to subdivide any census block containing a state or federal institution that is used
to confine felons or that is a state center for the developmentally disabled.
Current law requires an annexation ordinance to include certain information,
such as a description of the annexed territory. In addition, under current law, the
clerk of any city or village that annexes territory must immediately file with the
secretary of state a certified copy of the annexation ordinance, along with a plat
showing the annexed area. However, failure to make this required filing does not
invalidate an annexation ordinance.
Under this bill, every annexation ordinance must also identify the census block
number or numbers of the annexed territory and each municipality from which the
territory was detached. In addition, this bill provides that an annexation of territory
by a city or village that establishes a municipal boundary that subdivides a census
block is invalid until the city or village furnishes to the secretary of state a certified
copy of the annexation ordinance, a plat showing the annexed area, and an estimate
of the population of the area according to the most recent federal decennial census.
Filing of copies of municipal ward plans
Currently, within five days after adoption of a decennial ward plan, each
municipality is required to transmit a copy of the plan to the county clerk or board
of election commissioners of each county in which the municipality is located. If the
population of the municipality exceeds 10,000, the municipality is required to send
a copy to the legislative reference bureau.
Under this bill, a municipality need only file a ward plan with the county clerk
or board of election commissioners and the county clerk or board of election
commissioners must send to the legislative reference bureau a copy of the ward plan
no later than ten days after receipt. The legislative reference bureau must then
provide copies of each ward plan to the elections board. The bill clarifies that copies
may be filed in either electronic or paper format. In addition, the bill provides that,
if any municipality or county fails to file a ward plan within the time prescribed by
law, the municipality or county is liable to the elections board, the legislature and the
legislative service agencies for additional costs incurred in recording ward data as
a result of the delay.
Filing of final county supervisory district plans
Currently, the chairperson of each county board of supervisors must file with
the secretary of state a copy of the final county supervisory district plan. This bill
requires the secretary of state to forward a copy of the supervisory district plan to
the legislative reference bureau and requires the legislative reference bureau to
forward a copy to the elections board. The bill also clarifies that copies may be filed
in either electronic or paper format.
Time schedule for establishing election districts in 1st class city school
Currently, within 60 days after a first class city (currently, only Milwaukee)
adopts an aldermanic district plan, the board of school directors of the city must
adopt an election district plan. Under this bill, a first class city board of school
directors must adopt an election district plan within 60 days after adoption of a
decennial ward plan rather than an aldermanic district plan.
Town ward numbering
Currently, when a town is divided into wards, the annual town meeting and
special town elections must be held in the first ward. The bill deletes that
Incorporation of census corrections
Currently, decennial ward plans, as well as decennial county supervisory and
city aldermanic district plans, are based on the federal decennial census. The
statutes do not treat the issue of corrections issued by the U.S. bureau of the census.
Under this bill, ward plans and aldermanic district plans must reflect the census
results, including any corrections, for the populations of counties, municipalities,
and census blocks on April 1 of the year of the census, if corrections are issued prior
to adoption of a decennial ward plan, or, in the case of a municipality that is affected
by a correction but is not divided into wards, if the corrections are issued prior to
adoption of a county supervisory district plan. Under the bill, an official correction
does not include the substitution of an estimate for an actual population count.
Territory included within ward plans
Currently, each municipality's decennial ward plan must include all territory
within the municipality on August 1 of the year following the federal decennial
census. This bill instead provides that each plan must include all territory within
the municipality on the date of adoption of a tentative supervisory district plan by
the county in which the territory is located.