By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — Other states use non-partisan procedures for legislative redistricting, and there is no reason that Wisconsin cannot come up with a better way.
To show the Wisconsin Legislature that Dunn County supports a nonpartisan redistricting procedure, the Dunn County Board approved a resolution asking for a new procedure to prepare legislative and congressional districts at the January 15 meeting.
The last redistricting process on the state level cost taxpayers $2 million in legal fees to defend a partisan political activity, noted James Tripp, county board supervisor from Menomonie.
When the Republicans are in power, the legislative districts favor Republicans, and when the Democrats are in power, the legislative districts favor the Democrats, he noted.
“There is no reason in the world why we can’t eliminate the partisanship and go to a nonpartisan process,” he said.
The resolution approved by the Dunn County Board “urges the State Legislature to create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of a legislative and congressional redistricting plan that would promote more accountability and transparency in the process, and prohibit the consideration of voting patterns, party information, incumbents’ residence or demographic information in drawing the maps except as necessary to ensure minority participation as required by the Constitution of the United States.”
The background information included with the resolution also notes that “historically, legislative and congressional plans in Wisconsin have been subject to partisan influence that puts the desires of politicians ahead of the needs of the people.”
The resolution will be sent to the governor, the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Wisconsin Towns Association, the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, all members of the state legislature and to every Wisconsin county.
Dunn County will not be including a referendum question on the April 1 ballot about amending the United States Constitution to declare that only human beings are entitled to constitutional rights.
The Dunn County Board’s executive committee discussed the referendum question at a meeting January 8, and after much discussion, decided not to put the question to a referendum, said David Bartlett, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the executive committee.
The proposed advisory referendum question would have read: “Whether the United States Constitution should be amended to declare that only human beings are entitled to constitutional rights and that the regulation of political contributions and campaign spending by corporations, unions and political action committees is not a restriction of freedom of speech.”
A few years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled that money is the same as speech and that corporations and other entities are entitled to exercise their right to free speech under the Constitution by spending as much money as they want on campaigns and other political contributions.
Since then, a movement has gained momentum to amend the U.S. Constitution to declare that corporations and other entities are not people and do not have the same constitutional rights.
A year ago, the Dunn County Board passed a resolution about corporations and other entities and constitutional rights, Bartlett said.
The resolution was sent to the legislature, so the executive committee did not believe it was necessary to put the question to a referendum, he said.
In addition, a referendum question on the April 1 ballot would cost about $9,000, Bartlett said.
The executive committee decided that the question should not go to a referendum, he said.