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Federal courts asked to review redistricting proposals


UNDATED (WSAU) There’s already a legal battle brewing over the politically-charged process of creating new state Assembly and Senate districts.

Former Senate Democrat Judy Robson of Beloit and 14 other residents have asked a federal court to have a three-judge panel draft new district lines, if lawmakers don’t approve maps that meet constitutional requirements. Republican legislative leaders are working faster-than-normal to approve new district boundaries, and critics say they’re scrambling to finish the process before they risk losing control of the Senate in the August recall elections.

G-O-P leaders won’t say anything about that. But Assembly Speaker Scott Fitzgerald says the party has drawn proposed new maps, and he’s sharing the details with his party’s members.

Senate leaders would not confirm they’ve done the same. Ripon Republican Luther Olsen says his leadership has kept members “in the dark.”

Redistricting is done every decade to reflect population changes from each 10-year Census. Normally legislators don’t begin process until the fall, so the state districts can correspond to the new district boundaries for local communities. But in the past few decades, it hasn’t made any difference. The party that’s not in power normally accuses the controlling party of gerrymandering – and as a result, a federal court has drawn the state boundaries for the last several decades.