Kansas Governor Vetoes Redistricting Plan Targeting Democrats | New Policies

By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Governor Laura Kelly on Thursday vetoed a Republican redistricting plan that would make it harder for Kansas’ lone Democrat to be re-elected to Congress this year.

Republicans in the GOP-controlled legislature should try to override Kelly’s veto of the measure, but if they do, the new lines will likely be challenged in federal court and possibly state court. Republicans appeared to have the two-thirds majority required to override a Senate veto and were close in the House.

The measure would divide the Kansas City area portion of the state into two congressional districts, costing Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids some territory in her top-performing 3rd district. The map would also move the liberal Northeastern Kansas community of Lawrence, home to the main campus of the University of Kansas, from the 2nd District of Eastern Kansas and place it in the 1st District of Central and Eastern Kansas. western Kansas with conservative communities six or more hours away. auto.

Kelly’s veto message repeated Democratic lawmakers’ criticism of the plan, arguing that it violates guidelines established by the courts and lawmakers themselves aimed at not diluting the weight of minority voters and ” protect communities of interest”.

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“I stand ready to work with the Legislative Assembly in a bipartisan way to pass a new map of Congress,” Kelly said in her post. “Together, we can reach consensus and enact a compromise that empowers all Kansas people.”

Kelly’s action comes with Republicans hoping to regain a majority in the US House in this year’s election.

Republicans have argued that Davids can still be re-elected, based on the vote in the 2020 election and that they are simply following previous federal court terms to ensure that all districts are as equal in population as possible after the changes in population over the past 10 years. They also said they did not want to split Johnson County, the state’s most populous county into the Kansas City area.

Democrats had a host of criticisms that lawyers for sympathetic voters would be likely to raise in court.

The new map would reduce the percentage of minority voters in the 3rd District by moving the northern part of Wyandotte County into the Kansas City area in the 2nd District. Democrats argue that the federal courts are unlikely to accept the reduced influence of minority voters, and Kelly said the change was made “without explanation.”

However, Republicans have argued that the split is acceptable because the percentage of minority voters would increase in the 2nd District.

Democrats also argue that all of Wyandotte County is part of the Kansas City area core. But Republicans note that the combined populations of Johnson and Wyandotte counties exceed the ideal of 734,470 for a Kansas congressional district.

Democrats are also upset over Lawrence’s change, which would separate the city from the rest of its home county and make it a far eastern tip of the 1st District. They argue that Lawrence has little in common with the rest of the 1st. Kelly also suggested that GOP lawmakers would also “reduce the strength of communities of interest in western Kansas.”

But Republicans argued the change was acceptable because it would place the main campuses of the University of Kansas and Kansas State University in the same district.

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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