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Retiring state senators favor redistricting reform

MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News)   Two retiring state senators won't walk out the door without making their own push to reform the redistricting process that many insiders blame in part for today's polarization. Republican Dale Schultz and Democrat Tim Cullen will hold a public meeting next Monday at the State Capitol on ways to change the process of re-drawing legislative district boundaries after each 10-year census.

Minority Democrats have been going around the state to promote a system that's similar to Iowa, where an independent commission re-draws the boundaries. The attorney for Iowa's redistricting agency is expected to appear at next week's forum, along with U-W Madison experts and the Common Cause watchdog group.

Wisconsin allows the Legislature to handle redistricting. In recent decades, it didn't make much difference because each party controlled a different house -- and the federal courts ended up writing the maps. In 2011, however, Republicans controlled all of state government -- and critics said they loaded as many districts as possible with their own voters. A federal court condemned the G-O-P's process, but ruled the maps constitutional because they contained relatively equal numbers of voters.