Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Republican SB 148 Redistricting Bill Splits Milwaukee's Hispanic Community Into Two Assembly Districts

State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa

Governor Scott Walker called to veto partisan Senate Bill 148.

By H. Nelson Goodson
July 26, 2011

Milwaukee- On Monday, State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milw.) during the Nfoque Latino Spanish Radio show at WJTI 1460 AM said, the Redistricting Senate Bill 148 (SB 148) passed by the Republican controlled legislature splits the Hispanic community into two Districts. Zamarripa said, the heart of the Latino community and the Cesar E. Chavez Drive Business District will be split in half, if Governor Scott Walker signs the bill into law. Zamarripa has called on Walker to veto the bill publically, but neither Zamarripa or the Democratic leadership in the legislature have made any effort to meet with Walker to convince him to do so.
Republicans in the state legislature decided to split the Latino community along S. Chavez Drive. The East side of Chavez Dr. will become the 9th Assembly District and the West side of the street will become the 8th Assembly District. Zamarripa, an Hispanic lives within the 8th District.
In 2012, the new redistricting maps are expected to take effect. The state redistricting bill creates a Hispanic voting-age majority population with 54% from the current 22.9% in the 9th Assembly District and the 8th Assembly District was cut to 60% of Hispanic voting-age majority. The Republicans cut Zamarripa's majority and created the two Districts. Zamarripa said, they could have added a 68% to 70% Hispanic majority to the 8th District, but didn't.
The Republican state redistricting process only held one hearing, withheld the maps from the public and Democrats until a week before they were approved. They disenfranchised the Latino community from actually participatiing in the process by not providing more time to challenge the plan and rushing to approve their redistricting plan. The Republican process was viewed as a power grab before the recall elections on August 9. Six Senate Republicans are being recall.
SB 148, if signed into law by Governor Walker will automatically void the Milwaukee Common Council approval of two majority Hispanic voting-age Districts, including the two proposed Hispanic majority Districts by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Special Redistricting Committee.
The state Republicans did not take into account the redistricting efforts by the city and county government officials. The state redistricting process usually takes into account the way local governments draw their district lines, according to the U.S. Census totals every ten years in voting-age populations and the growth of minority populations. The local governments also abide by the Federal Voting Act of 1965, affording minority populations majority Districts.
Zamarripa said, that a federal lawsuit to challenge the state Republican SB 148 will most likely be filed by members of the Latino community, if Walker signs the bill. By creating two Hispanic Districts, it decreases the Latino voting-age population instead of securing a higher majority percentage District as required under the Voting Act.
In June, Democrats had filed a federal lawsuit claiming Republican legislators illegally cut Districts. They amended the lawsuit claiming the state redistricting maps were unconstitutional and violated the Voting Rights Act.
The newly approved Republican SB 148 maps also shows at least six Assembly seats, instead of seven seats for the African-American community and multiple Native American tribes were split into two Districts, which the tribes were within one District each.
Governor Walker on Monday signed a bill allowing the state legislature to draw redistricting maps before the local and county governments draw them.

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