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Archive for Thursday, November 29, 2001

Redistricting may give Lawrence additional clout

November 29, 2001

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— Lawrence will probably gain political clout under legislative redistricting plans under consideration.

But a map showing the proposed boundaries of the 125 House districts and 40 Senate districts may be a couple of weeks away, officials said Wednesday.

The House-Senate redistricting committee met briefly and then dissolved into Republican and Democratic caucus meetings to work on the once-a-decade job of redrawing district boundaries to accommodate population changes recorded by the Census.

Rep. Troy Findley, D-Lawrence, said population growth along Kansas Highway 10 will probably result in a new House district that includes part of Lawrence.

Johnson County will probably gain two new districts and Sedgwick County one district. Wyandotte County, western Kansas and southeastern Kansas are expected to lose House seats because of declining population.

The way the district lines are drawn has been a partisan operation dominated by Republicans, Findley said.

"We (Democrats) have been shut out of the process," he said.

Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson and co-chair of the redistricting committee, has said that Findley is partly right.

"Reapportionment by definition is partisan," O'Neal said. He said Republicans, who hold the governor's office and significant majorities in the House and Senate, will put together a plan and then present it to Democrats.

"I don't want a Republican plan that no Democrats will vote for. I would like to get some Democrats" to support the proposal, he said.

O'Neal said Republicans will file a plan by Dec. 13. The committee is expected to vote on it at its Dec. 20 meeting.

If approved, the plan would go to the full Legislature which starts its session Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, little progress was made on redrawing Senate districts.

Even proposals on the House side hit glitches.

After feeding information into a computer, a map came out that had 126 House districts, one more than the state has.

Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at (785) 354-4222.

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