Kansas Lawmakers Begin Town Hall Meetings On Redistricting
MANHATTAN — Kansas legislators on Monday began five days of town hall meetings on redrawing the state’s political boundaries, ahead of the release of census data they need to do the job and with Republicans facing accusations that they’re rushing the hearings.
The House and Senate redistricting committees had meetings scheduled Monday in Manhattan, Salina and Hays and a total of 14 events across the state through Friday. The meetings are designed to give people a chance to weigh in on what principles they want lawmakers to use in redrawing congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts next year.
Democrats have complained that the GOP-controlled Legislature is stifling participation by scheduling the town hall meetings over just five days. Senate President Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said at the end of the Manhattan event that the meetings are merely a first step.
The U.S. Census Bureau plans to release its first data for cities and counties Thursday.
Lawmakers must account for shifts in population across Kansas and make districts as equal in population as possible. But political considerations such as protecting incumbent lawmakers and helping each party’s chances in 2022 elections are likely to play a big role.