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Gerrymandering concerns at center of debate over Kansas congressional district maps

Kansas lawmakers add pay raises for state workers to budget
Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 18:53:33-05

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas state lawmakers are considering new congressional district maps and heard from several people Thursday who were concerned the new lines would dilute the voices of minority and youth voters.

The Kansas House of Representatives and Senate held hearings at the same time Thursday about redistricting.

The concern from some people present at the hearings was how the new maps will change the third congressional district, currently held by Democrat Rep. Sharice Davids.

Davids has served as the representative of the district since 2019.

One proposed map called "AdAstra," would divide Wyandotte County along the I-70 corridor and add Franklin and Anderson Counties.

"I think they are diluting the urban core vote, minority vote and spreading it with more rural areas that do not have significant communities of interest with those," State Sen. Dinah Sykes, a Democrat from Johnson County, said.

Republican State Sen. Ty Masterson argues the redrawn district lines are based on the growing population in Wyandotte and Johnson counties.

“Those demographics are kept together. It’s a matter of whether they're kept together in the second or kept together in the third and how you divide that," Masterson said. "It’s a very natural barrier that keeps those communities generally together."

State Rep. Chris Croft, chair of the House committee on redistricting, said the feedback from the public helps lawmakers when deciding on the final map they'll approve.

“I’m really excited about all the different options," Croft said. "It’s gives us things to chew on and think about as we move forward.”