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Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2001

Plan won’t split city

Reorganization proposal leaves Lawrence whole

July 12, 2001

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After meeting with Lawrence politicos, Manhattan-area officials decided Wednesday to abandon their congressional redistricting plan that would split Lawrence in two.

"That's not going to be on the table anymore," said State Sen. Sandy Praeger, a Lawrence Republican.

The Flint Hills Task Force on Reapportionment angered Lawrence officials in May when it unveiled a proposal to divide Lawrence down Iowa Street.

Under that plan, the east side of Lawrence would remain in the 3rd Congressional District, and the west side would go to the 2nd Congressional District.

Officials with the task force told state lawmakers that dividing Lawrence was necessary to keep Kansas State University, Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth in the 2nd District.

But Lawrence officials found that reasoning unfair, because it would have split Lawrence and Kansas University.

"It seemed a little aggressive to be doing something negative to one community in order to get something for themselves," Praeger said.

Praeger, other Lawrence officials, and Manhattan-area officials, including Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan, met Wednesday to talk about the issue.

Praeger said the two sides agreed to work together on redistricting plans that wouldn't hurt either side.

Praeger said when the Legislature's redistricting committee meets today, the Flint Hills task force would withdraw its proposed plan.

"Now, that doesn't mean it won't resurface from someone else," she warned.

There are other proposals before the redistricting committee that would split Lawrence, including a plan by State Rep. Robert Tomlinson, R-Roeland Park, that would place most of Lawrence in the 2nd District.

The committee will go over about a dozen congressional redistricting plans in preparation for re-drawing district boundaries.

Once every 10 years, the Legislature, armed with new census information, re-draws district lines to balance out population in Kansas' four congressional districts.

The fast-growing 3rd District, which includes Lawrence, must "lose" population. Those changes will affect not only the 3rd District and neighboring 2nd District, but the 1st and 4th districts, too.

Lawrence officials want to keep the entire city in the 3rd District, saying the city has more in common with the Kansas City-area because of commuting workers and the links of Kansas University and the KU Medical Center.

The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce will propose two different plans to keep the city in the 3rd District. One would put part of southern Douglas County in the 2nd District, while another would put southern Johnson County in the 2nd District.

Both proposals would split Wyandotte County, putting the urban area generally in the 3rd District and the rural area in the 2nd.

Tim Holverson, director of public policy at the Lawrence Chamber, said he hoped the Chamber's proposals would be considered by the committee.

"We just want them to be receptive to our plans," Holverson said.

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