TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Kansas House voted Wednesday to override a veto of a new district map for the state, joining the Senate in bypassing the governor’s block.
Representatives in the House voted 85 to 37 to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto, and needed an 84-vote majority to do so. The successful vote took place on the third day of deliberation on the map, with the Senate previously taking two days to muster the votes needed to bring Senate Bill 355 back to life.
The Senate voted 24 to 15 on Monday, failing to hit the 27-vote majority Republicans needed. However, with a motion to reconsider and vote again on Tuesday, the Senate saw a comeback in favor with 27 yes votes and 11 no votes.
SB 355, which would adopt the “Ad Astra 2” map, draws new congressional district lines in Kansas, which determine what votes are counted to elect certain representatives and have been particularly controversial in the northeast portion of the state. It would split the northern half of Wyandotte County from the state’s 3rd Congressional District, which is currently held by Representative Sharice Davids, the only Kansas Democrat in Congress. It would also take Lawrence, just one city in Douglas County, and add it to the 1st Congressional District which predominantly accounts for the western part of the state.
A statement from Kansas House Republicans was not immediately available after the House vote. However, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, also a Republican governor candidate, supported the decision to override the veto.
“At its heart, the once-per-decade redistricting process is about ensuring every person’s vote counts,” Schmidt said. “The newly enacted congressional boundaries do that, and we are prepared to vigorously defend them against any partisan political lawsuits that long have been threatened.”
On the other side of the aisle, Kansas House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer commented more negatively on the passing of the bill in his chamber.
“I’m disappointed in my colleagues and I’m frustrated by the lack of accountability and transparency throughout this entire process, from start to finish,” Sawyer said. “… Ad Astra 2 makes a mockery of the redistricting guidelines and betrays the public trust.”
Opponents of the map have called it “gerrymandered,” and said it would make it harder for Davids to keep her position as the state’s only congressional Democrat. Supporters like Republican Rep. Brenda Landwehr (Wichita) have said there is a “numbers problem” in the Wyandotte and Johnson County area that the map solves. When vetoing it, Kelly previously voiced objections to how the map would redraw voting districts in Kansas.