Topeka — Incoming Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle said Thursday that she is interested in redrawing legislative districts next year, even though federal judges already redrew the boundaries this year.
Wagle told The Associated Press that she first wants to consult with attorneys to see whether a quick round of political redistricting is possible under the Kansas Constitution and past court decisions.
But she said if it is possible, "Why not try?
"Nothing should be out of the realm of fixing," she said.
Wagle, a Wichita Republican, was among the conservative GOP legislators frustrated during this year's legislative stalemate over redrawing political boundaries to ensure equal representation. Lawmakers failed to approve any maps, forcing three federal judges to draw the new lines.
Before this year's elections, the Senate had been led by Republican moderates who worked with Democrats on a number of issues, including redistricting. But conservatives ousted eight moderate GOP senators in the August primary, and Republicans retained their 32-8 majority in last month's general election, giving conservatives firm control of the chamber.
Wagle said this year's debate over redistricting represented "a colossal breakdown of communication." Next year, the GOP right will control both legislative chambers, which is likely to make it easier for conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to pass his initiatives.
"I feel like the House, the Senate and the governor's office, we're working together very well," Wagle said.
Rumors have circulated since the August primary — when it became clear that conservatives were likely to control both chambers — that they'd be interested in revising the state's political boundaries. But Wagle's comments Thursday were the first confirmation of serious interest.
The state constitution requires the Legislature to redraw its political boundaries in the second year of every decade, following the federal census. Some legislators don't think it's clear whether the language would prevent more frequent redistricting.
"I would like to hear different legal opinions about whether that's possible," Wagle said.