Topeka Just as it was 10 years ago, Douglas County could be in the middle of redistricting battles again, officials indicated Thursday after new census figures were released.
The Census Bureau report showed Kansas’ population increased 6.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, but more importantly it showed much of that growth occurred in northeast Kansas.
The report shows that the 3rd Congressional District, which includes eastern Douglas County, has the largest population with 767,569 people.
That is 112,000 more than the 1st Congressional District, 57,000 more than the 2nd, which includes western Douglas County, and 47,000 more than the Wichita-based 4th.
To be equal in population, as the law requires, the congressional districts will have to have roughly 713,000 people each. That means the 3rd, which also includes Johnson and Wyandotte counties, must shed the most population.
Could the Douglas County portion of the 3rd be rejoined with the portion in the 2nd, like it was before 2002?
Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said that’s a possibility.
“I’ve always operated under the assumption that Douglas County would go into the 2nd District because you would want to keep the Kansas City metro area together,” Davis said.
But Davis said that because Douglas County has been voting Democratic, Republican U.S. Reps. Kevin Yoder in the 3rd and Lynn Jenkins in the 2nd may not want the whole county in their districts.
And Davis said that while many opposed splitting Douglas County in the last redistricting battle, “the split has not served us as badly as people had thought it might.”
He said having two congressional representatives has worked to Douglas County’s advantages in some ways.
On the legislative side, it is too early to tell how the population shifts will affect Douglas County’s Statehouse delegation.
Johnson County could see an increase of up to five state House districts, having grown by 93,093 people. Johnson County essentially added a Douglas County to its population over the past 10 years.
Douglas County grew by 10.9 percent, from 99,962 to 110,826.
The Legislature’s redistricting committee will meet later during the current legislative session and set a schedule for public hearings during the summer to consider congressional and legislative boundaries.
The Legislature will then draw new maps during the 2012 legislative session.