2021 - 2022 LEGISLATURE
June 10, 2021 - Introduced by Senators Smith,
Roys, Agard, Bewley, Carpenter,
Erpenbach, Johnson, Larson, Pfaff, Ringhand, L. Taylor and Wirch,
cosponsored by Representatives
Andraca, S. Rodriguez, Anderson, Baldeh,
Billings, Bowen, Brostoff, Cabrera, Conley, Considine, Doyle, Drake,
Emerson, Goyke, Haywood, Hebl, Hesselbein, Hintz, Hong, Kitchens,
McGuire, B. Meyers, Milroy, Moore Omokunde, Neubauer, Novak, Ohnstad,
Ortiz-Velez, Pope, Riemer, Shankland, Shelton, Sinicki, Snodgrass,
Spreitzer, Stubbs, Subeck, Tranel, Vining and Vruwink. Referred to
Committee on Government Operations, Legal Review and Consumer
1An Act to repeal
3.002 (2); to consolidate, renumber and amend
(intro.) and (1m); to amend
3.004 (2) and 5.15 (4) (a); to repeal and recreate
subchapter I of chapter 4 [precedes 4.001]; and to create
13.49 of the statutes; 4relating to: legislative and congressional redistricting.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
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 decennial 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. 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). Traditionally, the
legislature has used municipal wards to construct legislative and congressional
districts, although the legislature may adjust the boundaries of a municipal ward
and use the revised ward boundaries instead. Legislative and congressional
redistricting plans enacted pursuant to this procedure 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.
This bill creates a new procedure for the preparation of legislative and
congressional redistricting plans. The bill directs the Legislative Reference Bureau
to draw redistricting plans based upon standards specified in the bill and establishes
a Redistricting Advisory Commission to perform certain tasks in the redistricting
process. The bill also makes various other changes to the laws governing
redistricting. Significant aspects of the bill include the following:
Under the bill, a redistricting plan drawn by the LRB must satisfy several
criteria, including the following:
1. The plan must be based on population requirements imposed under the
Wisconsin Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and requirements imposed under
Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which, among other things, generally
prohibits redistricting plans from abridging the right to vote on account of race or
color or because a person is a member of a language minority group.
2. The senate and assembly districts established in the plan must satisfy equal
population standards specified in the bill. Among other things, no senate district
may have a population that exceeds that of any other senate district by more than
10 percent and no assembly district may have a population that exceeds that of any
other assembly district by more than 10 percent, unless necessary to maintain
compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Congressional districts
established in the plan must each have a population as nearly equal as practicable
to the ideal population for such districts, while maintaining compliance with Section
2 of the Voting Rights Act.
3. District boundaries under the plan must coincide with municipal ward
boundaries and, to the extent consistent with the Wisconsin Constitution, the U.S.
Constitution, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, must coincide with the
boundaries of political subdivisions. The number of political subdivisions divided
among more than one district must be as small as possible and, with limited
exceptions, if there is a choice among political subdivisions to divide, the more
populous political subdivisions shall be divided before the less populous.
4. Districts must be composed of convenient contiguous territory. Under the
bill, areas which meet only at the points of adjoining corners are not contiguous.
5. To the extent consistent with the requirements described in items 1. to 3.,
districts must be compact. The bill also specifies how compactness is to be measured.
6. In preparing the plan, the LRB must be strictly nonpartisan. No district may
be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent legislator or
member of Congress, or other person or group or, except to the extent necessary to
meet the requirements described in item 1., for the purpose of augmenting or diluting
the voting strength of a language or racial minority group. The LRB may not use
political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, or demographic
information, except as necessary to test the efficiency gap and competitiveness of
each district, or use residence addresses of incumbent legislators or members of
Congress. The LRB may also use demographic information as necessary to meet the
requirements described in item 1.
7. The number of assembly districts may not be less than 54 nor more than 100.
The number of senate districts may not be more than one-third nor less than
one-fourth of the number of assembly districts. Each senate district must contain
only whole assembly districts and, with certain exceptions, each congressional
district may contain only whole senate districts, to the extent possible.
8. Districts must be drawn so that neither the intent nor the result of the plan
abridges the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the
Redistricting Advisory Commission
The bill assigns several tasks to the Redistricting Advisory Commission,
including the following:
1. If requested to do so by the LRB, the commission must provide direction to
the LRB concerning any decision the LRB must make in preparing a redistricting
plan for which no clearly applicable guideline is provided under the bill.
2. The commission must oversee the work of LRB employees engaged in
preparing a redistricting plan and may enter into contracts for hiring experts to
assist in plan preparation. Entering into such a contract, or terminating a contract
employee, requires approval from three-fourths of the members of the commission.
3. The commission must make available to the public at the earliest feasible
time copies of any redistricting bill delivered by the LRB to the legislature, as
provided under the bill, maps illustrating the redistricting bill, a summary of the
standards applicable to the LRB for development of the plan in the redistricting bill,
and a statement of the population of each district created in the plan and the relative
deviation of each district population from the ideal district population.
4. The commission must conduct public hearings on a redistricting bill
delivered by the LRB to the legislature, as provided under the bill, unless the
redistricting bill represents a plan drawn in response to a redistricting bill that was
previously delivered to the legislature and rejected by at least one house. The bill
also requires the commission to hold a hearing in each of the congressional districts
in this state and, whenever it is practicable, on weekends. The commission must
submit a report to the legislature summarizing information and testimony received
by the commission at the hearings. The report may also include any comments and
conclusions that the commission's members deem appropriate concerning the
information and testimony received at the hearings or otherwise presented to the
The bill also permits the commission to establish policies limiting the
information that the LRB may provide to persons outside of LRB staff concerning any
redistricting plan drawn by the LRB, except that any such policy does not apply to
population data furnished to the LRB by the U.S. Bureau of the Census or to a
redistricting plan after a bill embodying that plan is delivered by the LRB to the
legislature as required under the bill. The bill also provides that any draft maps,
along with the data sets used to create them, that the LRB produces in the course
of preparing a redistricting plan must be open to public inspection and copying and
made available on the Internet site of the LRB as soon as they are produced.
Under the bill, the Redistricting Advisory Commission must be created not
later than February 15 of the first year following the decennial federal census and
terminates upon satisfying its duties, until a new Redistricting Advisory
Commission is created for the next round of legislative and congressional
redistricting. The commission consists of five members. The speaker and minority
leader of the assembly and the majority and minority leaders of the senate must each
appoint one person to serve on the commission. Within 30 days after the fourth
commission member is appointed, but not later than February 15 of the first year
following the decennial federal census, the four commission members so appointed
must select the fifth commission member, who serves as chairperson. The bill
prohibits all of the following individuals from being commission members:
individuals who are not eligible electors of this state at the time of the appointment,
individuals who hold partisan public office or political party office, and individuals
who are a relative of or are employed by a member of the legislature or of Congress
or are employed directly by the legislature or Congress.
The bill requires the LRB to perform certain tasks in preparation for drawing
congressional and legislative redistricting plans on the basis of each federal
decennial census. For example, as soon as possible after receiving from the U.S.
Bureau of the Census the population data needed for legislative redistricting, the
LRB must use that data to assign a population figure to geographic or political units
to facilitate the drawing of redistricting plans. Typically, this data is available on or
about April 1 of the first year following the decennial federal census. The LRB must
also prepare and publish an analysis describing the population of current legislative
and congressional districts and the extent to which the districts may violate the
redistricting standards described above. In addition, as municipalities complete
their ward plans (typically, by October of the first year following the decennial
federal census), the LRB must assign a population figure based upon certified federal
census data to each municipal ward, for use in drawing redistricting plans.
Not later than January 1 of the second year following the decennial federal
census, the LRB must deliver to the majority leader of the senate and speaker of the
assembly identical bills embodying a plan of legislative and congressional
redistricting, drawn in accordance with the standards described above. The bill
further specifies a procedure that the legislature must follow in considering the bills,
although that procedure is not enforceable by the courts. The bill requires either the
assembly or the senate to bring the bill to a vote expeditiously, but not less than seven
days after the report of the Redistricting Advisory Commission is received and made
available to the members of the legislature. The vote must be under a procedure or
rule permitting no amendments. If the bill is approved by the first house in which
it is considered, the bill must expeditiously be brought to a vote in the second house
under a similar procedure or rule.
If neither of the bills delivered by the LRB is approved by both the assembly and
the senate, the chief clerk of the house that failed to approve the bill must transmit
to the LRB information that the house may direct regarding reasons why the plan
was not approved. The LRB must then prepare identical bills embodying a second
plan of legislative and congressional redistricting, taking into account the reasons
transmitted to the LRB, insofar as it is possible to do so while complying with the
standards described above. The LRB must deliver the bill to the majority leader of
the senate and the speaker of the assembly no later than 21 days after the date of
the vote by which the senate or the assembly failed to approve the bill initially
submitted. This second bill must be expeditiously introduced and brought to a vote
not less than seven days after the date of introduction, in the same manner as
prescribed for the initial bill.
If the second bill is similarly rejected by at least one house, the same procedure
applies, except that the third bill is subject to amendment in the same manner as
other bills. In addition, the third bill and any amendments to it may be passed only
with the approval of three-fourths of all the members elected in each house.
The bill also provides exceptions to this process to account for variations in the
timing of the release of federal census data.
In addition, the bill prohibits the majority leader of the senate, the minority
leader of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, or the minority leader of the
assembly from assigning or hiring any person to work with the LRB to prepare for
redistricting, to prepare plans, or to oversee either process.
Required contents of redistricting bills
The LRB must ensure that each bill embodying a redistricting plan it draws
contains specified conventions to apply wherever territory in a plan is described by
geographic boundaries. Also, each such bill must provide that the bill first applies,
with respect to regular elections, to offices filled at the next occurring general
election and, with respect to special or recall elections, to offices filled or contested
on or after the date of the next occurring general election.
Challenge based on population inequality
If an action is brought challenging a legislative redistricting plan adopted
under the procedure established in the bill on the basis of an excessive population
variance among senate or assembly districts, the legislature has the burden of
justifying any variance in excess of 10 percent between the population of a senate or
assembly district and the applicable ideal district population. If an action is brought
challenging a congressional redistricting plan adopted under the procedure
established in the bill on the basis of an excessive population variance among
congressional districts, the legislature has the burden of justifying any variance in
excess of 1 percent between the population of a congressional district and the
applicable ideal district population.
For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as
an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
3.002 (intro.) and (1m) of the statutes are consolidated, renumbered 2
3.002 and amended to read:
13.002 Description of territory.
In this chapter: (1m) Reference, reference 2
to any county or municipality means that county or municipality as its boundaries 3
exist on April 1 of the year of the federal decennial census on which the districting
4plan described under subch. II is based
3.002 (2) of the statutes is repealed.
3.004 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
“Ward" means a ward prescribed by a municipality based upon 8
municipal boundaries in effect on April 1 of the year of the federal decennial census 9
in accordance with the most recent revision of municipal wards under s. 5.15 upon
10which the districting plan described under subch. II is based
and used in preparing
11congressional and legislative redistricting plans as required under s. 4.005
Subchapter I of chapter 4 [precedes 4.001] of the statutes is repealed 13
and recreated to read: