Trio of Kansas Senate redistricting maps introduced by committees with little fanfare

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Rural-to-urban population shift likely adds to Johnson County delegation

TOPEKA — Republicans and Democrats along with a voter advocacy group introduced Thursday three competing redistricting maps outlining new boundaries for the 40 Kansas Senate districts in response to population shifts during the past decade.

The Kansas House has not revealed in bill form maps outlining how the 125 representatives’ districts would be shaped heading into the August primary and November general elections.

The filing deadline for legislative districts is June 1, meaning lawmakers need to proceed deliberately with this work to account for potential political or legal challenges.

The Legislature’s recommended maps for the four congressional districts, initially vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly, are the subject of three lawsuits in Wyandotte and Douglas counties. There are objections to splitting Wyandotte County’s diverse population between two congressional districts and plucking Lawrence from the 2nd District and moving it to the agrarian 1st District covering western Kansas.

Sen. Rick Billinger, a Republican from Goodland and chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, introduced the Senate leadership’s proposed map during a meeting of his budget committee. It was introduced on behalf of Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson, and chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee.

The Senate map has a secondary application, because those 40 districts are divided in a manner that creates 10 districts of the Kansas State Board of Education.

Billinger opened the Ways and Means Committee meeting by announcing he was introducing a Senate map. He didn’t share copies of the GOP’s map, which was expected to be published, perhaps by Friday, on the website of the Kansas Legislative Research Department.

“This is the state Senate redistricting plan on behalf of Senator Wilborn and it’s called ‘Liberty 2,’” Billinger said.

“Is this our map we’re going to start with?” asked Sen. Carolyn McGinn, the Sedgwick Republican.

“I believe so,” Billinger said. “They just asked if I would introduce it today.”

In the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee, the Democrats’ version of the a proposed Senate redistricting map was introduced along with a map created by the Kansas League of Women Voters.

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa, had the chairman introduce “Bluestem Plan” and the “Eisenhower Plan.” It was done without fanfare and without Sykes present.

“Because of weather, it’s hard for them to get in here today,” said Sen. Rob Olson, an Olathe Republican and chairman of the Federal and State Affairs Committee.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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