Topeka 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.