Topeka Legislative leaders said Thursday that Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters may try a last-ditch effort to pass a congressional redistricting map that puts part of Lawrence in the vast 1st District.
Asked about that, Brownback’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said the governor “has always hoped the Legislature would resolve the issue.”
The Legislature adjourned May 20 but meets one last time, today, for final adjournment. That final day is usually reserved for ceremonies, but the Legislature has on occasion conducted business on that day in years past.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said he has heard it is likely a conservative Republican senator will make a motion to concur with a redistricting plan that was approved by the House.
That map, approved 64-51 on May 19, would put east and north Lawrence in the 1st, which includes western Kansas and most of central Kansas.
Lawrence is currently divided between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts. Under the proposed map, the Kansas University campus area would be in the 2nd.
Essentially, the map would put one of the most liberal areas of the state in one of the most conservative congressional districts in the country.
But the day after the House passed that plan, as final deals were settled, an expected motion in the Senate to concur with the House-approved map didn’t happen. Some legislators had speculated the plan didn’t have enough votes as state senators from western Kansas opposed the plan, and so did U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, who represents the 1st.
The Legislature and Brownback failed to agree on legislative, congressional and State Board of Education redistricting plans during the session as a political war erupted between conservatives and moderate Republicans.
Now a three-judge panel is working on redistricting plans for the state.
If a senator makes a motion to concur with the House plan, the motion will need 21 votes in the 40-member Senate to send it to Brownback for his signature.
“I don’t foresee that will pass,” Hensley said. Many times, during the last day of the session — called sine die, a Latin term meaning “without day” — fewer than half of the legislators will attend.
But Hensley noted that Brownback still has the state budget on his desk and could use the threat of line-item vetoes within the spending plan to persuade Republicans in the Senate to approve the map.
Lawrence legislators were vehemently opposed to putting a portion of Lawrence in the 1st Congressional District, saying that the needs of those in Lawrence and western Kansas were not similar. Democrats said the map was proposed to dilute Democratic voting strength, but supporters of the plan said it was necessary to get population in the 1st, which is below the ideal size district.
— Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-423-0668.