STATEHOUSE (AP) -- The Kansas Senate has postponed debate on a bill for redrawing its 40 districts after an angry meeting of majority Republicans.
Senators now plan to debate the measure Wednesday. It is backed by the chamber's moderate Republicans, and conservatives contend it's designed to keep the Senate's moderate GOP leaders in power.
The Senate had planned to debate the measure Tuesday. But during a caucus of Republican senators, conservatives attacked the plan and peppered Reapportionment Committee Chairman Tim Owens with hostile questions.
Owens, a moderate Overland Park Republican, angrily walked out.
Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, said the debate on the bill was being delayed to give GOP factions a chance to compromise.
Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka issued his response tonight:
“For nearly a year, Governor Sam Brownback and House Speaker Mike O’Neal have fervently and adamantly gerrymandered Senate districts in an attempt to ouster members of their own party in the upcoming election.
“By manipulating the system to their favor, Sam Brownback and Mike O’Neal once again have stifled progress being made by the Senate chamber.
“Kansas is now the only state in the nation to have not completed redistricting. As a result, the filing deadline has been postponed, and a very real threat of court-intervention hangs over our heads.
“Every day the legislature continues to meet, it costs the taxpayers of Kansas $63,000. It is unacceptable to force the people of Kansas to pay the price for this political power grab. It’s time for Sam Brownback and Mike O’Neal to let the Senate complete its work.”
The impasse threatens to delay the state's August 7th primary election.