Set to the side, for the moment, whether Kansas bars can offer a “happy hour” of lower-priced drinks, and the big issue that Kansas legislators wrangled with through the session and until just minutes before they took off for spring break is congressional reapportionment.
This is interesting, and there is a lot of under-the-sheets kicking going on here that isn’t immediately apparent.
The simple problem: Kansas has to adjust the boundaries of its four congressional districts to get within a person or two of 713,280 Kansans per congressional district.
The Legislature needs to draw lines to get 57,970 more people into the 1st District represented by U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp; 3,233 more people into U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ 2nd District; move 54,289 people out of U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s 3rd District, and slide 6,912 folks out of U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo’s 4th District.
Now, just how to get those extra people out of the 3rd and 4th districts and into the 1st and 2nd districts is the problem. It’s complicated because Republicans would like to make sure that the districts are all Republican-heavy in voter registration so there’s no chance a Democrat can represent any Kansan in Congress.
Another of those little problems is that lawmakers mostly all say they don’t want to split major cities between two congressional districts. It wasn’t much of a problem 10 years ago when Lawrence was split between the 2nd and 3rd Districts. There were apparently no injuries caused by that division of a major city; KU didn’t start animal husbandry or combine-driving courses.
But last week the Kansas House’s target for a split was Topeka and Shawnee County—and that raised a ruckus—with western Kansas’ 1st District getting much of eastern (yes, eastern) Shawnee County/part of Topeka (including the Statehouse) and the 2nd District retaining western Shawnee County/part of Topeka, where Jenkins, incidentally, lives. (The shortfall of moving part of Shawnee County out of the 2nd, which actually needs an additional 3,233 people, would be more than made up by other population moves into the 2nd—it’s complicated.)
The Senate last Friday before turning out the lights in the Statehouse to leave for legislative spring break killed that House-passed bill that splits Topeka and Shawnee County, partly because the Senate didn’t like the idea and partly because it was the House of Representatives that thought it up.
Nobody’s come up with a map yet that splits Wichita to toss population to the 1st District, or figured a way to order those “extra” 54,289 3rd District residents to move to western Kansas.
This congressional map business is getting trickier; the Senate has already come up with a congressional redistricting map and sent it to the House, where apparently not many—or at least the big dogs—like it.
It’s a political showdown that at least in the Statehouse is a major fight for power and influence between—choose your combatants—moderate Republicans/Democrats versus conservative Republicans, the governor versus the Senate, the Senate versus the House. Apparently dolphins don’t care.
The governor’s people want this settled quickly and keep saying that Kansas might be the last state in the union to redraw its congressional districts. Nobody’s sure that matters at all, but it’s catchy.
Look for the maneuvering and fighting to continue.
Almost makes you wish lawmakers had already passed that happy hour law so we could at least talk about reapportionment at bargain prices in the neighborhood bar.
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report—to learn more about this statewide service, visit www.hawvernews.com.
Redistricting challenges lie ahead for legislators