Archive for Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Senate redistricting up for debate second time

April 2, 2002

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— A bipartisan coalition is pushing forward with a Senate redistricting plan despite a veto threat from Gov. Bill Graves.

Today's scheduled debate would be the second time the Senate has taken up a bill redrawing the boundaries of its 40 districts to reflect shifts in population.

Graves vetoed an earlier plan drafted and pushed to passage by the coalition of the Senate's 10 Democrats and 11 conservative Republicans.

"The governor's belief is that the map as drawn now is not finished," Don Brown, Graves' spokesman, said Monday. "He believes it will be finished by the time it gets to his desk."

Graves said Friday he would veto the map if minor changes weren't made.

The latest map answers one of Graves' publicly stated concerns that the map he vetoed was neither considered by a committee nor presented for public comment.

But the new version retains features that Graves had found objectionable, such as the creation of a new, seventh Senate district in Johnson County in a way many believe would favor a conservative Republican over a GOP moderate supported by the governor.

Johnson County was no longer of concern to some members, including Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen.

Coalition members were confident on Monday that the new map would be approved without change. It was endorsed last week by the Senate Reapportionment Committee. Chairman David Adkins said he didn't know what to expect when the measure is debated today.

Moderate Republicans plan to offer an amendment redrawing the boundaries of two southeast Kansas districts currently represented by Sens. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, and Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer.

Umbarger wants Barone's district to be unchanged. Umbarger's district would expand from the current counties of Labette and Neosho north into Allen County and east into Bourbon County.

Barone represents Crawford County and parts of Bourbon and Cherokee counties, and wants all of Bourbon County placed within a single district.

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