TOPEKA, Kan. — State lawmakers are one step closer to finalizing a new map that could change the way people vote across the state for years to come.
On Tuesday, the House gave first round approval to a proposed map that would reshape the boundaries of all four congressional districts.
The Ad Astra 2 map would split the existing 3rd Congressional District along Interstate 70 between Wyandotte and Johnson counties. The 3rd District would include a portion of Wyandotte County south of I-70, as well as all of Johnson, Miami, Franklin and Anderson counties.
The remaining portion of Wyandotte County north of I-70 would be placed in the 2nd District. The proposed map would also move the city of Lawrence out of the 2nd Congressional District that includes the rest of Douglas County and place it in the more rural 1st Congressional District.
Based on the 2020 census, the state of Kansas experienced a population growth of roughly 3% in the last decade. The goal of the legislature is to redraw maps with four equal congressional districts with roughly 734,470 people per district with zero person deviation.
The proposed bill is a House substitute for Senate Bill 355. The Senate approved the Ad Astra map last week. Based on population, the proposed Ad Astra map would likely shift minority voices in Wyandotte County from the 3rd District into the 2nd District.
Democratic Rep. Tom Burroughs said the proposed map negatively impacts minority voices in Wyandotte County by splitting a portion of the vote into a different district.
“To take and put us into a congressional district that only needs to bump up their diversity for the sake of watering down a[n] ethnic community that is diverse as Wyandotte County is shameful. People of color deserve to have a voice,” Burroughs said.
“What this does is it increases the minority voting strength in the 2nd District more than it does reduce the minority voting strength in the 3rd Congressional [District],” Republican Rep. Chris Croft, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said.
Republican Rep. Steve Huebert said the idea of drawing voting lines to keep the entire Kansas City core together would only be done in an effort to keep Democratic incumbent Rep. Sharice Davids in office. Huebert said he supports the Ad Astra map because he feels it makes the congressional districts more fair based on population size.
“It’s competitive for all the incumbents. They all have an equal chance with the new lines to go and win the seats that they won in 2020,” Huebert said.
Democratic State Rep. Barbara Ballard said she opposes the proposed map because it would remove Lawrence from the 2nd District.
“This separates the county seat from the rest of our communities. It separates the University of Kansas from Baker University and the Haskell Nations University from elsewhere in Douglas County, diluting the college age voting block between two districts,” Ballard said.
Ballard said she also has concerns about a lack of representation for minority voters if the city is moved into the 1st District.
“After lookin at the various maps introduced thus far, I can only interpret the intent of Ad Astra as amended is to dilute the voting power of people of color and the state of Kansas by ensuring they are spread across districts,” Ballard said.
Lawmakers are scheduled to take final action on the map at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Final approval from the House on Wednesday would move the map to Gov. Laura Kelly’s desk.