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Opinion

Opinion

Partisan roadblock

Kansas lawmakers need to finalize the state’s redistricting maps so they can get on to more important business.

April 23, 2012

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With all the important business the Kansas Legislature has put off until after its spring recess, it’s unfortunate that lawmakers will have to use valuable time to continue their contentious negotiations over redrawing legislative and congressional district maps.

Redistricting is always a political process, but this year, the politics has turned into silliness. Legislators are submitting maps that split key communities of interest for no good reason except perhaps to make a political point. One map splits Topeka in two; another removes part of Wyandotte County from the district that covers the rest of the Kansas City metropolitan area and puts it into the mostly rural 1st District. One of the silliest maps, called Deep Purple, would keep Douglas County in two pieces, put Lawrence in the 1st District, and use the eastern third of the county as a narrow bridge to link large chunks of northeast and southeast Kansas into the 2nd District.

It’s a little surprising, with Republicans holding such commanding majorities in both houses, that it is taking so long to agree on a map. Districts must be redrawn to reflect population declines in the western part of the state, but it’s a political given that the congressional districts lines will be drawn in a way that protects Republican incumbents in the U.S. House. There are many reasonable ways to accomplish that goal and still create clean, contiguous districts that maintain key communities of interest. One such plan already was approved by the Kansas Senate but has failed to gain favor in the House.

Drawing a new map for Kansas Senate districts also is causing unusual angst because of the split between moderate and conservative Republicans in the state. As always, the majority party is trying to draw districts in a way that protects its incumbents. However, some Republicans in both the House and Senate don’t want all those incumbents back in office; they would prefer to see different Republicans who represent a more conservative view. With redistricting maps still pending for both the House and Senate, it’s impossible for would-be candidates — incumbents or challengers — to even know for sure in which district they will be living when the final maps are drawn.

It’s a bad situation that is firing up partisan political passions at exactly the time when legislators need to be looking for common ground on key state issues like KPERS, school finance and, oh yes, the budget.

Accepting reasonable compromises to finalize the three redistricting maps would be a good first step.

Comments

Orwell 2 years, 8 months ago

A classic example of partisanship and extremism directly at odds with sound public policy. If the ultra-right's policies are so plainly beneficial to the state why do they have to spend so much time and effort stacking the electoral deck?

Richard Heckler 2 years, 8 months ago

The legislators may never be able to leave Topeka for the next two years.

Leaving the statehouse in the hands of Gov. Brownback could be risky business as a lot of Kansas voters/taxpayers have noticed.

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

The less government accomplishes, the less likely they are to screw me over. Gridlock it all. America voted for gridlock in 2010. I may not agree with many of the positions that were voted for, but I'm glad to see them hold the government in check.

Putting the same ideology in the executive and both sides of the legislature is a foolish. The branches of government were meant to be separate entities, not Siamese Twins.

I'd like to see every piece of legislation bitterly fought from beginning to end. Less law is better. If there is a compelling reason, they'll find it, and if it isn't redundant, pass it.

An amendment would fix it:

No bill shall be voted on by The House of Representative until it is publicly considered in it's entirety for two years after introduction, except with a two thirds vote for cloture.

That by default filibusters every new law for two years, and allows us to choose representatives while knowing what legislation they will vote on unless 2/3rds of the House and Senate feel something is important enough that it transcends politics.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 7 months ago

The only thing more idiotic than the status quo is your proposal.

Liberty275 2 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't suppose you would like anything that stands in the way of the corporate-bought government. Regardless, America will always remain split down the middle ideologically because close races make better ratings for the guys telling the news. Given that equal split, America is more likely to have branches or houses at odds as it usually does

Hope for change and see if it passes the House.

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