Sparks begin to fly over redistricting

Kansas lawmakers organizing upcoming work to redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries are wrestling with decisions about whether to begin a series of town hall meetings before arrival in September of detailed population numbers.

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May 19, 2021 - 8:19 AM

McPherson Republican Sen. Rick Wilborn, standing left with Senate President Ty Masterson, questioned wisdom of holding congressional and legislative redistricting meetings with the public without key Census data expected to arrive in September. (TIM CARPENTER/KANSAS REFLECTOR)

TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers organizing upcoming work to redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries are wrestling with decisions about whether to begin a series of town hall meetings before arrival in September of detailed population numbers.

State legislators crafting these Kansas districts a decade ago met with the public in 14 cities from July to October 2011 and had benefit of precise population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population information available during those town halls showed declines in 77 of the 105 counties, despite an overall statewide rise of 6.1% during the prior decade. It meant more political power would be drawn into urban areas.

House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, urged the redistricting advisory group Monday to proceed with town halls in 2021 without access to the comparable population reports due to Census Bureau delays. Insights from the meetings can still be useful to the 2022 Legislature as it develops updated districts for the Kansas House, Kansas Senate, U.S. House and Kansas Board of Education, he said.

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