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Mary Lazich

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs.

Hundreds of citizens across Wisconsin have contacted key state lawmakers demanding a public hearing on redistricting reform.

Let’s keep the pressure on.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, through an open records request, obtained more than 300 constituent emails, letters or calls to Republican leaders. Virtually all of the citizens support a public hearing on Assembly Bill 185 and Senate Bill 163, which would mirror Iowa’s strong model for nonpartisan redistricting.

Instead of letting the politicians draw legislative and congressional voting district maps after each major census, Iowa assigns the task to a nonpartisan state agency. The result is more competitive elections without partisan favors or expensive lawsuits.

“The argument opposing redistricting (reform) must be weak if you fear a public discussion,” Sandy Whisler of Lake Mills wrote to GOP leaders last month.

“Why wouldn’t you want to hear from the people of Wisconsin on this matter?” asked Bruce Wachholz of Verona.

“We the people demand that gerrymandering stop and redistricting be done by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau,” wrote Larry Thies, whose city was blacked out by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ office. “Schedule a hearing for AB 185 immediately.”

“You are being very arrogant and self-serving by not allowing a public hearing on bills 185 and 163,” wrote John Alan Terry, Jr., who described himself as a “true Republican.”

“I am writing to appeal to your sense of duty and loyalty to the state of Wisconsin,” Donald Mandry wrote to Vos. “I urge you to hold hearings.”

“Refusal to hold a hearing reveals either a deficient understanding of democracy or a deliberate attempt to thwart democracy,” wrote Kaj Foget of Madison. “Please reconsider your position.”

“I can think of no good reason not to hold hearings on proposed legislation of such importance,” wrote another citizen, whose name and city were blacked out by Sen. Mary Lazich’s office. “You can certainly vote against the bill, but the public has a right to have it formally considered.”

More than a dozen newspaper and TV editorial boards across Wisconsin agree. So do good government groups and a slew of State Journal readers in letters to the editor.

Vos, Fitzgerald, Lazich and Rep. Chad Weininger should stop stalling and schedule a hearing now.

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