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Archive for Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Statehouse Live: Committee introduces measure aimed at reducing politics in redistricting

May 15, 2012

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— A Senate committee on Tuesday introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the state's redistricting process, which is currently mired in a political war between conservatives and moderates within the Kansas Republican Party.

The proposal would set up a five-member redistricting commission that would draw political boundaries for congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts.

The commission's maps would be submitted to the Legislature for an up or down vote. If the maps are rejected after two rounds, then legislators could start trying to make amendments to the maps.

The Senate and House majority and minority leaders would each appoint a person to the commission. Then the four appointees would pick a fifth member who would serve as the chair.

The proposed constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate before being place on the ballot for voter consideration. If approved, it would be in place for the next round of redistricting in 10 years.

State Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, who is chair of the Senate redistricting committee, said such a set up wouldn't completely remove politics from the process but was "a step in the right direction" and would be more accepted by the public.

The Legislature has been tied up over redistricting with conservatives and moderate Republicans fighting over how the boundaries are drawn.

Owens, who is considered a moderate Republican and has been under attack from conservatives, said the current system of legislators drawing the district lines is too political.

"The more you get the politics involved, the worse it becomes," Owens said.

He said redistricting should be focused on making adjustments to reflect changes in population so that all Kansans are equally represented.

State Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, chair of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, which introduced the proposed constitutional amendment, said he didn't know if the measure would advance during the current legislative session.

Comments

verity 2 years, 7 months ago

Redistricting and legislators salaries and benefits should not be controlled by them, neither should they appoint the people who control these issues. Obviously this makes for a serious conflict of interest.

Bill Lee 2 years, 7 months ago

If districts were required to be rectangular, politics would be removed from the process.

Grump 2 years, 7 months ago

No, they'd spend months debating the definition of "rectangular."

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

You can't remove politics from the process. Once the courts determined that community interest, race, and a million other attributes needed to be a part of the process, the politics of redistricting became permanent. What we have in Topeka is less a matter of actual politics than a bitter personal fight between two wings of a specific party.

The real solution is to eliminate districts and to elect the 125 highest vote-getters to the House and the 40 highest to the Senate. Not only would it break the two-party hold on power, it would eliminate all the smallest advantages of incumbency.

And that's why it will never happen.

JackMcKee 2 years, 7 months ago

Is there anyone that has actual leadership ability in Kansas government? This is more like a three ring circus than a legislative session. What have they accomplished?

jhawkinsf 2 years, 7 months ago

We elected these clowns. Us.
We're in the process of getting the government WE deserve. As with an alcoholic who must hit his bottom, perhaps we the voters must reach our bottom before we change. Hopefully, our bottom is near.

verity 2 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, we're sittin' on it.

Sorry, just couldn't resist.

rex_populi 2 years, 7 months ago

Personally, I hate it when my bottom strays too far. :-S

jehovah_bob 2 years, 7 months ago

Nothing solves politics better than bureaucracy.

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