TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Kansas lawmakers are sending their redistricting maps to the governor’s desk.
The House passed the state senate map, Substitute for Senate Bill 563, on Wednesday, also adding their map, which passed favorably, with the majority of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle favoring the plan. The House map, called “Free State,” passed Wednesday morning with 112 lawmakers voting in favor of the plan.
Representative Bradley Ralph, R-Dodge City, motioned to amend the senate bill to include their map as well. Some democrats rose in favor of the plan. House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer said it would help speed up the process.
“This will speed the process along and make it easier and give us a little more assurance that the Senate’s not going to mess with our map,” Sawyer said.
Unlike the House map, the Senate map received pushback from some lawmakers, who worry the new lines could impact voters in the upcoming election. The senate redistricting proposal, called the Liberty map, splits up parts of Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence and Kansas City.
In an interview last week, Senator Ethan Corson, a democrat from Fairway who sits on the senate redistricting committee, said, while his district may not be a concern, he is worried about urban areas that could be included with more rural parts of the state.
“I think the populations in those urban and suburban areas have different interests and concerns than our rural neighbors and all of those folks need to have representatives who are dedicated to their interest,” Corson said.
Corson gave several examples of districts that could be impacted, including Johnson county, near the KCK metro area.
“Senate District Number 9, for example, now is split up among four different counties,” Corson said. “So we could have a situation where, of the ten senators from Johnson county, four of them potentially could live outside the county.”
Ultimately, the state Supreme Court will have to approve of the final version. Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, who also sits on the senate redistricting committee, echoed comments of other Republican senators, defending efforts to even out the population. Republicans argue it’s something that has to be done as more people move to urban areas.
“Unfortunately, with population shifts and changes, districts have to change.”