Archive for Saturday, May 11, 2002

Panel can’t agree on redistricting

Senator wary that plan to keep Lawrence in 3rd Congressional District is gaining momentum

May 11, 2002


— Lawmakers were at an impasse Friday over congressional redistricting, and the question of whether to split Lawrence was at the center of the dispute. The legislators couldn't even agree to disagree.

Lawrence is currently in the 3rd Congressional District. A House-approved map would split Lawrence between the 2nd and 3rd districts, while a Senate plan would place Lawrence entirely in the 2nd District.

Because the two chambers passed different plans, a conference committee of three House members and three senators has been meeting off and on for days, trying to hammer out an agreement that could be considered by the full House and Senate.

But on Friday the committee members said they couldn't reach an accord and were signing what is called "an agree to disagree" statement.

Once that is signed by two House members and two senators, then a new conference committee is named usually the same members and the voting requirements to pass a map out of the conference committee are lowered.

But Sen. David Adkins, R-Leawood, refused to sign the statement.

When he made that known, Sen. Ed Pugh, R-Wamego, refused to sign it, too. That left the statement without the necessary number of signatures to continue the process, and the proposal remained stuck in the conference committee.

Later, Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan, placed a redistricting plan on the Senate calendar for today's debate. That plan would put Lawrence in the 2nd District.

Adkins said he could not sign the statement because he feared that a plan that would keep Lawrence in the 3rd District by splitting part of Johnson County was gaining momentum. That plan is being offered by Democrats. Republicans in the Senate are closely divided over how to treat Lawrence.

Earlier Friday, Gov. Bill Graves said he feared the Legislature would fail to complete redistricting and that the boundaries of the state's four congressional districts would be decided by a federal judge.

Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh has said the Legislature's inability to put together a plan was threatening the timetable of the congressional primary elections.

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