Hearings held in Oregon and Wisconsin today

Hearings were held in the Oregon Senate and Wisconsin Assembly on proposals to adjust the census to eliminate prison-based gerrymandering today.

by Peter Wagner, February 2, 2010

This afternoon, the Wisconsin Assembly held a hearing on AJR63 [PDF], the Census Adjustment Amendment, today. The video and audio of the Assembly Committee on Elections and Campaign Reform hearing is available online courtesy of Wisconsin Eye (start at 57:37 in). The amendment would prohibit the state and local governments from using prison populations to pad legislative districts.

The amendment’s lead sponsor, Rep. Kessler, spoke in support, and was followed by Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of WI Education Fund (at 1h10min in video). Ms. Kaminski’s statement statement in support [PDF] is on the League’s website.

This morning, I testified by telephone before the Oregon Senate Rules Committee about Senate Bill 1028 [PDF] This bill would determine the home addresses of incarcerated people and adjust the federal Census prior to redistricting. I put the urgency of this bill in the context of a rapid rise in incarceration coming in to conflict with the state constitutional definition of residence. I said:

In short, the Census Bureau counts people in prison as residents of the facility. The Supreme Court requires you to draw equally sized districts based on where people reside, and you have a State Constitution which for more than a 100 years explicitly defines residence differently than the Census Bureau.

Also testifying in support was the lead sponsor of the bill, Senator Chip Shields, Marcus Mundy, President of the Urban League of Portland, Juanita Head Walton of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, and Janice Thompson of Common Cause Oregon.

The Senate Rules committee hearing audio [real audio] is available on the senate website. (Fast forward to the end of the first ~5 minutes, let the next file automatically load, and then fast forward to 13:25 in the next file.)

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