Archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Senate committee backs redistricting proposal

February 12, 2002


— After weeks of deadlock, a committee on Monday swiftly endorsed a proposed new state Senate map that places two northwest Kansas incumbents in one district.

The Senate Reapportionment Committee took less than five minutes to approve the map revising the 40 districts' boundaries and send it to the full Senate. The plan is similar to one drafted last year by Republicans on a special redistricting committee.

Reapportionment Committee Chairman David Adkins described the latest proposal as a "polished version" of the earlier committee's work

Lawmakers are redrawing congressional, legislative and education districts to reflect shifts in population according to the 2000 census.

The bill would give Johnson County another district, so that it would have five inside its lines and share another two.

Sens. Stan Clark, R-Oakley, and Janis Lee, D-Kensington, would both be placed in the redrawn 40th District, which would have 17 counties and cover about a fifth of the state.

President David Kerr said last week that he would like to have the bill debated in the Senate by Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, who voted against the bill Monday, said the map had already been decided and he would save his comments for Senate debate.

Republicans hold a 30-10 advantage in the Senate.

"It is pretty clear that the handwriting is on the wall," Hensley said. "I'm going to reserve my right to offer amendments on the floor."

But Sen. Ed Pugh, R-Wamego, who also voted against the plan, said there wouldn't be much debate in the Senate. Pugh declined to state specific complaints, saying only there are better maps that "haven't been presented yet."

"I'm sure there is a lot of hand-wringing going on right now," Pugh said. "But it will get to the floor and someone will have the 21 votes they need, and that will be it."

Still awaiting final action in the Reapportionment Committee is a revision of Kansas' four U.S. House districts.

Meanwhile, the House Redistricting Committee endorsed a bill redrawing the 125 state representative districts. The entire House could debate the bill Wednesday as well.

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