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Could Walker Have Used Redistricting as a Stick to Keep Wisconsin Senate Democrats in Madison?

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Here's a hypothetical question.

What if Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had proceeded earlier this month with the state budget deficit-aiding components to his plan that would require state employees to contribute to their pensions and increase payments to their health-care premiums, but had temporarily tabled his proposal to eliminate some of the collective bargaining rights for governmental employees?

For example, what if Walker had waited until after the federal government had delivered all the census data necessary for the redistricting process to begin?

Could Walker have used redistricting as a stick to keep Wisconsin Senate Democrats at the Capitol?

Wisconsin's redistricting process is like most states in the nation in that the responsibility for redrawing congressional and legislative district lines lies with the legislature.

All 50 states receive their 2010 Census Redistricting Data [P.L. 94-171] in February and early March of this year, with a final federal delivery deadline of April 1, 2011.

To date, 21 states have received their redistricting data - including neighboring Iowa and Illinois - but not Wisconsin.

Five states are scheduled to receive their data next week: Delaware, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Wyoming.

Once Wisconsin receives its files, the data will be aggregated into ward boundaries and then disseminated to each of the Badger State's 72 counties - likely in late March or April.

While the legislative database would not normally be created until much later in the year (around October), with plans drawn up in November and votes on final plans in January 2012, the state could take steps to somewhat expedite that process.

Governor Walker has thus far been unsuccessful in his public appeals to bring back the 14 absent Democratic Senators from their various out-of-state hideaways in Illinois.

Because Walker acted swiftly on the collective bargaining issue by folding it into his budget plan, we'll therefore likely never know the answer to this question:

Would Senate Democrats have left the state in the first instance if they knew Wisconsin's new legislative and congressional district maps could be created and voted on without any of their input?

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73 Months and Counting

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