Topeka Two measures that would have affected Lawrence — one on redistricting and one dealing with gay rights — fell by the wayside Sunday as the Legislature ended the 2012 session.
On Saturday, the House approved and sent to the Senate a congressional redistricting map that would have put north and east Lawrence in the mostly rural 1st U.S. House District that stretches all the way to the Kansas-Colorado border.
Senate leaders said Sunday they expected someone in the Senate would make a motion to concur with the House-approved map. But as the last-minute deals were made to end the session, no motion was made.
"I just don't think the votes to pass that were there," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence. Davis added that several western Kansas senators opposed the proposal after U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, who represents the 1st, said he didn't like it.
House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, who voted to put part of Lawrence in the 1st, said he was disappointed the Senate didn't debate the map.
He said the 1st, which has been losing population, needs to extend into eastern Kansas to pick up population. He said he has heard no complaints from Lawrence about its current split between the 2nd and 3rd Districts, so splitting it between the 1st and 2nd seemed OK.
But state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, said it was unfair to put one of the state's most Democratic areas into one of the country's most conservative districts. "It was so illogical," Ballard said of the proposal.
A federal court is likely to direct the setting of new boundaries for congressional, legislative and State Board of Education after the Legislature failed to accomplish that task.
Ballard said she was also glad that the Senate disregarded a measure that was called the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.
Supporters of the bill said it was needed to prevent government from forcing a person to violate their religious beliefs. It was approved by the House in March on a 91-33 vote.
But opponents of the bill said it would invite discrimination against gays and lesbians and invalidate a Lawrence anti-discrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation.
"Until nearly the very end, we were unsure if we had the votes in the Senate to defeat this," said Tom Witt, executive director of the Kansas Equality Coalition. "Ultimately, however, the results of our work became evident: We held the line, once again, against an agenda of homophobia and intolerance," Witt said. The Senate took no vote on the measure.
Ballard said she believed that there were was opposition to the bill in the Senate from two camps, those who thought it would lead to discrimination and those who believe that local control of ordinances should prevail.