Archive for Sunday, July 29, 1990


July 29, 1990


Although preliminary federal census numbers will be out in about a month, local officials are still pressing their challenge of the state census.

Officials argue that the state's 1988 headcount was too low and the state's population figures used for figuring political apportionment aren't fair.

The federal census, conducted earlier this year, doesn't change anything.

"It is absolutely essential that we keep pursuing it because the state is still going to reduce our figures," said County Administrator Chris McKenzie.

The lawsuits, which were filed against the state in 1989 by Douglas, Riley, and Leavenworth counties, and Lawrence, Kansas City, Kan., and other cites, challenge the 1988 state census figures.

Under the Kansas Constitution, the state may count students and military personnel as residents in their hometown, rather than where they lived when the headcount was taken, unless they specifically claim the college town or military base as their "permanent" home. Officials argue that towns such as Lawrence, with a heavy student population, are undercounted.

UNDER FEDERAL law, people generally are counted as residents of where they are residing at the time of the census.

It is unconstitutional for the state not to comply with the federal guidelines, McKenzie said.

"The lawsuit not only challenges the validity of the 1988 census, but also the constitutionality of the state constitution," he said. "The state must abide by the higher (federal) authority."

Pat Hackney, assistant Douglas County counselor, said all attorneys involved in the case will meet Tuesday during a pretrial conference to go over procedural and legal issues. The cases are in Shawnee County District Court.

Hackney said the lawsuits address two main legal issues: The constitutionality of the state singling out students and military personnel in a census, and whether the state conducted the 1988 census correctly.

"We anticipate that we will ask the judge to rule on some of the questions of law, prior to any trial," she said.

"There will be a lot more information after Tuesday," Hackney said.

It is estimated that more than 15,000 people weren't counted in Douglas County during the 1988 census because of the state's counting method.

WHILE THE state case is still in court, the first look at the 1990 federal census numbers isn't far away.

Mike Caron, a Lawrence resident and geographic specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau's Kansas City, Kan., office, said preliminary population figures from the federal census would be sent to Lawrence city officials in late August or early September.

The figures would be used by city officials during a "post-census-review," in which the city will have a chance to look over and question initial figures.

Hackney said the 1990 federal census figures might be used in the city's court case. However, she said it would be difficult to know whether they will be submitted as evidence without first knowing what they are.

"We haven't made a decision but I would anticipate that we would ask the court to use them as further evidence," she said.

If any federal census figures are used as evidence, Hackney didn't know if they would be the preliminary figures or or the final figures, which will be released in March or April 1991.

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