Topeka Lawrence would be consolidated into the 2nd U.S. House District under two congressional redistricting plans that emerged Monday.
And state legislators also had harsh words for a proposal that has floated up that would take Kansas City, Kan., currently in the 3rd District, and place it in the vast western Kansas 1st District.
“That just doesn’t meet my test of rationality,” said state Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, and chairman of the Senate redistricting committee.
State Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, said of the Kansas City-to-the-1st plan, “I will never be a part of a map like that.”
Ostmeyer said U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, who represents the 2nd District, brought that plan to his attention. “I was disappointed to see that map,” he said.
That proposal would also place all of Lawrence in the 3rd. Jenkins has said she wants to keep Manhattan, home of Kansas State University, in the 2nd so that there is a consistency in representation of the future site of the federal lab, called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Putting Kansas City, Kan., in the 1st would allow that to happen.
Jenkins says she has not endorsed any specific plan.
In a statement, Jenkins’ office said Jenkins enjoys representing Lawrence and would like the district to remain as it is but realizes the 1st must pick up population.
Several committee members said congressional incumbents have been involved in the Legislature’s work of redrawing district lines to accommodate population shifts and make the districts as equal as possible.
“You can’t allow the congressional delegation to muck up this process,” said state Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.
Currently, west Lawrence is in the 2nd District and east Lawrence in the 3rd. Hensley said putting the city in one district would right an injustice from 10 years ago when Republicans split the city.
The Senate committee is scheduled to vote on a plan Wednesday.