TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT )- A controversial map redrawing Kansas’ congressional districts is moving forward.
The House Redistricting Committee voted Monday to approve their version of the “Ad Astra” map, which passed the Senate last week and now moves to the House floor.
The House version includes the same amendment as the Senate, which moves the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe’s reservation to the 2nd district, instead of splitting it up between two districts. The same amendment that was introduced by Senate President Ty Masterson in the Senate, was introduced Monday by Republican Rep. Chris Croft, who chairs the House committee.
However, it’s a split that’s drawn in Wyandotte County that is stirring controversy for residents and activist groups.
“In the process, they used the line of I-70 and natural barriers, and then you look at the population and how they all work together, and then those numbers are right on,” Rep. Croft said.
During the hearing, Croft fielded questions from Democrats who were concerned over the lines drawn in the map, which during the hearing, Croft said was drawn by a group of legislators and something he played a part in.
Opponents argue the split in Wyandotte County would destroy the urban core of the Kansas City metro area, which is why they’ve urged lawmakers to keep both Wyandotte and Johnson County- two of the state’s most populated districts- intact. The district is represented by the state’s only Democrat in Congress, Sharice Davids.
Several community organizations and residents from Wyandotte County gathered at the Kansas Statehouse expressing their concern about the plan, which they say would limit the minority voice.
“This certainly sets the stage in many ways for how they intend to draw those districts, which does put our current legislators in Wyandotte County in some bit of jeopardy,” Connie Brown-Collins said, a Wyandotte County resident.
Some have said the map is a clear act of gerrymandering and a push from Republicans to remove Democratic voters from a district that leans blue. Now that the district is overpopulated, they argue there’s an incentive for the Legislature’s GOP-supermajority to redraw lines that could hurt Davids politically.
“It’s important that if this particular arm of government doesn’t work that somebody checks it,” Liz Meitl said, a resident from Wyandotte County. “And that will be the Kansas Supreme Court.”
The map also takes Lawrence, one city in Douglas County, and adds it to the “Big First” congressional district, which is otherwise made up of more rural areas; something Democratic lawmakers from the area have spoken out against.
State lawmakers are required to “even out” voting districts every 10 years, so each district has the same amount of voters. According to Republican lawmakers, the “Ad Astra” map is one of the solutions for handling a district that’s overpopulated.
“This is math,” Rep. Croft said. “You look at it. There are many different ways to look at the problem and the solution, and this is just one of those ways.”