Kansas Houses approves new congressional district map

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 4:33 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (KWCH) - Update Wednesday, Jan. 26: The Kansas House on Wednesday approved a new congressional district map.

It’s received some criticism as it splits Wyandotte County in the Kansas City metro area between two districts and separates Lawrence from the rest of Douglas County by putting it in the “Big First” district that covers central and western Kansas. Opponents of the plan say it’s gerrymandering in an effort to oust the state’s only Democrat in Congress, Sharice Davids.

District maps must be redrawn every 10 years with new census data.

The Republican plan passed 79-37 and now heads to the desk of Governor Laura Kelly, who has not said whether or not she will veto it. If the governor were to take that action, 84 votes are needed to override her veto.

A proposed congressional redistricting map is nearing the governor’s desk. The Kansas House is moving forward with a Republican plan Tuesday afternoon and a final vote is expected Wednesday. This comes a week after we got a first look at the maps. Some proposed changes are controversial.

After the Senate passed the Ad Astra 2 map late last week, the Kansas House spent more than four hours on Tuesday, debating redistricting. The Senate-approved plan will bring some of the biggest changes to Kansas, first, second and third congressional districts.

Democratic lawmakers representing the Kansas City metro and Lawrence led the opposition to the plan. The Ad Astra 2 map takes part of Wyandotte County out of the Third Congressional District and puts it into the second. Also in the plan, Lawrence separates from the rest of Douglas County and put into the largely rural First Congressional District (The Big First) that would also then nearly stretch from the Colorado to Missouri borders.

Democrats argued the map is designed to impact minority groups and the Democratic control of the third district. Republicans say the map fairly addresses the shifting population from rural to urban areas and that the process has been fair, even if politics are involved.

“Followed the process and that is fair in a way that we can defend,” said Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center. “I would encourage my colleagues over here, you can vote for this in a way you will be able to tell your constituents you’ve done what they’ve asked you to do. For you over here that says that’s not fair, that’s the way it works.”

Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, is among those who spoke out against the proposed map in the Ad Astra Two plan, arguing that it suppresses the will of minority voters.

“People of color deserve to have a voice, rather some like or some don’t, but they deserve to have their voice heard. They deserve to elect people that they want to represent them, not to have to support someone that others want them to be represented by.”

Democrats in the Kansas legislature made several attempts to change the proposed map, but those attempts failed. The map has also faced backlash from several groups, criticizing the impact on minority voters and the speed of the process.

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