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Tony Evers vetoes GOP bills to delay local redistricting, prohibit enforcement of federal firearm laws
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Tony Evers vetoes GOP bills to delay local redistricting, prohibit enforcement of federal firearm laws

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Gov. Tony Evers on Friday vetoed a GOP-authored bill that would have delayed the redrawing of local political maps until at least 2023, which could force local jurisdictions to draft new district maps amid an already tight timeline due to COVID-19-related delays in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 census data.

Also, as expected, the Democratic governor vetoed a Republican-authored bill that would have prohibited enforcement in the state of future federal laws prohibiting or restricting the use of firearms.

Republicans have said the redistricting bill was drafted at the request of municipalities and counties in order to accommodate compressed timelines due to delays in receiving census data. Democratic lawmakers have said addressing census delays should not mean localities should be forced to use the same gerrymandered political maps again, and cautioned keeping the maps in place could violate equal population principles.

Currently, counties were required to adopt redistricting plans for supervisory districts by July 1 — more than a week ago — with municipal districts due within the following 60 days. However, updated census data is not expected to be received until August.

In a veto message for the bill, Evers said “in attempting to solve one problem, the bill creates a larger one” and a better approach would have been to waive the July 1 deadline and provide ways to help municipalities expedite their redistricting efforts.

“The bill creates too great of a delay in creating the new maps,” Evers wrote. “This will result in malapportioned maps that do not accurately reflect current populations, which violates the constitutional principle of one person, one vote.”

Gun bill

Evers also vetoed a bill that would have made future federal laws to ban or restrict the use of guns unenforceable in the state.

The GOP-authored measure follows similar efforts nationwide, as Republicans resist a push by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats to tighten gun laws.

In a veto message for the bill, Evers said the proposal was not permitted by the U.S. Constitution as it “purports to nullify the enforcement of federal law.” Evers also said the proposal could create confusion among the public and law enforcement officers.

Because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution dictates that federal law trumps conflicting state law, many previous GOP-backed state efforts to thwart gun laws have been found unconstitutional. Several states passed similar laws under then-President Barack Obama, but judges ruled against them.

Fave 5: State government reporter Mitchell Schmidt shares his top stories of 2020

Choosing my five favorite stories of 2020 seems almost paradoxical.

This year has felt like one exhausting slog of pandemic stories, state Legislature updates and, oh yeah, a presidential election thrown in for good measure. Thanks to a split government, there's been no shortage of politically-charged stories here in Wisconsin and the partisan divide has, maybe unsurprisingly, felt as wide as ever throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

I don't know if "favorite" is the best way to describe them, but here are a few stories from 2020 that stood out to me:

Back in March, Gov. Tony Evers issued the state's first public health emergency in response to the then-emerging pandemic. At the time, Wisconsin had reported eight total cases of COVID-19.

As the pandemic progressed, positive cases and deaths climbed and state lawmakers battled over the appropriate response. In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Evers' stay-at-home order, a decision that still resonates today with the state's coronavirus-related measures.

One story I was particularly excited about before I officially started working for the State Journal was the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. However, like most things this year, the pandemic drastically altered that plan.

In non-pandemic news, the state in October formally denied billions of dollars in state tax credits to Foxconn Technology Group — a story we managed to get before any other outlet in the state through records requests and sourcing.

Lastly, in November I worked on a story about how GOP-drawn legislative maps once again disproportionately benefited Republicans in state elections. Wisconsin is headed toward another legal battle next year when the next batch of 10-year maps are drawn.

Feel free to read my top stories below, or check out my other state government articles from this year, (by my count, there have been more than 300 so far).

Also, thanks to all the subscribers out there. This year has been challenging on so many people, so your support is so much appreciated.

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