Martin Hawver
Guest columnist
Just a week after the Kansas House passed, 109-14, its once-a-decade map that redraws the boundary lines of its 125 districts, the chamber’s leaders are scooching away from their informal agreement to let the Senate redraw its map without House interference.
That initial hands-off deal was that the House will draw its map and the Senate wouldn’t amend it, and the Senate will draw its map and the House won’t amend it. The concept: The Senate finishes its map, adds it to the bill with the House map, and both are passed at the same time.
Well, buoyed by the vote on the House map—even House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, voted for it—the House’s Republican leaders are feeling their oats. With 92 Republicans in the House, it would have been child’s play to put together a map that would hammer Democrats by reshaping their districts, pitting two or even three incumbent Democrats against one another for reelection and other mischief.
Practically, House Democrats got a better map than many expected.
But the Senate map is still in the works. And now that the House has its map passed with little chance that the Senate is going to mess with it because of its margin, House leaders are getting fussy about just what they want to see in a Senate map.
For sure, it’s making certain that no conservative Republican House members who are challenging senators in GOP primaries this August get drawn out of the district of their targeted senators.
And it’s probably also a map that eliminates a Republican-held district out west to create a new Senate district in Johnson County, which according to one-man/one vote is at least one district light.
Plus, there are generic Republicans, and then there are hot and heavy conservative Republicans, according to the House’s politics. House Majority Leader Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, put more shape in that House consideration of writing its own Senate reapportionment map.
He wants to see a map “that is Republican supported. This is a Republican state and I don’t mind a Republican-supported map,” he said last weekend.
It’s becoming clearer that there is going to be parsing of the Senate’s 32 Republicans’ votes on whatever remap bill that chamber comes up with. There are enough moderate Republicans in the Senate, who with the eight Democrats there, can pass bills. And, depending on what concessions conservative Republicans are willing to toss to Senate Democrats (protect a seat; don’t put two in one district?), those eight votes could go toward a conservative-drawn map. Just thoughtful self-protection from the Senate’s Tribe of 8.
Yes, this reapportionment—oh yes, and the House isn’t the least bit enthused with the Senate’s map of the state’s four congressional districts, either is going to be as bitter a political fight between the conservative House leadership and the Senate’s moderate leadership as we’ve seen in decades.
As interesting? What non-reapportionment bills get chewed up in the fight, or held hostage until the House believes the Senate gets reapportionment “right.”
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide political news service, visit the website at www.hawvernews.com.