Kansas Senate passes scrutinized new redistricting map, heads to House for consideration

13 News at Six
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:36 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Senate has passed the Ad Astra 2 redistricting map, which has drawn heavy scrutiny from Democrats. It will now head to the House for consideration.

On Friday, Jan. 21, the Kansas Democratic Party says the Kansas Senate, which is a Republican majority, passed a “heavily gerrymandered” Ad Astra 2 map, which redistricts the state’s congressional districts. It said the map purposefully breaks apart communities of interest by placing Lawrence in the 1st District and separating Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

Despite multiple new maps submitted by both Republican and Democratic Senators, KDP said the Ad Astra 2 map was passed. It warned the move could condemn taxpayer dollars to long legal battles bound for failure in Kansas courts.

“No matter how Republicans try to spin this map, Kansans know the truth: Republicans are trying to separate communities, dilute their votes, and pick their voters. Their map is nothing more than a futile attempt to fulfill their promise to big donors that they’ll draw four Republican congressional districts,” said KDP Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt. “Kansas Republicans know that the courts won’t accept the gerrymandered Ad Astra map, and they’re going to waste Kansans’ dollars to fight it regardless. Senator Ty Masterson and Senate Republicans are twisting themselves into a legal battle they can’t win, just like they’re twisting the congressional lines.”

Senate President Ty Masterson (R-16) and Senators Larry Alley (R-32), Rick Wilborn (R-35) and Renee Erickson (R-30) said in the Explanation of Vote that the map is reflective of the testimony received during in-person and virtual tours held in 2021.

The Republican Senators also said the map carefully follows guidelines established and is the culmination of a long process that started last summer.

“The Ad Astra 2 Map brings together communities of interest within each Congressional district to the furthest extent possible,” the Senators explained.

The Senators noted the map keeps the core of the 3rd District - Johnson Co. - together, and merges it with southern Wyandotte Co. as well as Miami, Franklin and Anderson counties.

Masterson, Alley, Wilborn and Erickson said these counties have historically been part of the 3rd Congressional District and have been increasingly associated with the KC Metro area.

The map also places the University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Fort Hays State in the Big First District. Boundaries have been drawn along major highways and natural barriers like rivers.

“It is also a fair map, keeping all four members of Congress within their current seats – and despite the assertions of the minority party that the map was drawn for partisan gain, all four would have won their elections in 2020. Finally, it has zero deviation in population between all four districts,” said the Republican Senators. “On balance, this map will serve the state well for the next decade.”

However, House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer said when he first saw the map, he thought it was a joke.

“The Senate today passed out the most politically gerrymandered map I have ever seen, it even looks like a salamander. Frankly, when I first saw the map, I thought it was a joke,” Sawyer said.

He continued to state that splitting Kansas City and moving Lawrence into the First Congressional District is a breach of constitutional requirements legislators face. He said the map would dilute Democratic votes in these areas.

KDP said the map also originally split the Kickapoo Indian Reservation in half, but overwhelming public outcry demanded an alteration. However, it said the Senate Redistricting Committee failed to respond to similar testimonies for Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

The map’s passage through the Senate marks the first step on a long road as it heads to the Kansas House for consideration.

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