Governor Laura Kelly is giving her thumbs down to a Republican-drawn congressional map.
Officials in Topeka say the proposal would have split Wyandotte County, diluting minority voting strength in the highly populated Kansas City area.
State GOP leaders say they will try to override to governor’s veto, asserting that the map is “politically fair” and would “serve Kansas well.”
The governor’s office released the following statement:
“The process of drawing districts each decade is the core to ensuring that all Kansans have the opportunity to participate in their government and have their voices heard. The courts and the Legislature have established case law and criteria on how to draw Kansas districts fairly and constitutionally.
“Those guidelines call for ensuring that districts are nearly equal to 734,470 in population as practicable while ensuring that plans have neither the purpose nor effect of diluting minority communities’ voting strength. The guidelines call for protecting communities of interest, preserving the core of existing congressional districts, and ensuring that whole counties are in the same congressional district if possible. The Legislature’s guidelines further state that ‘to a considerable degree most counties in Kansas are economic, social, and cultural units, or parts of a larger socioeconomic unit. These communities of interest should be considered during the creation of congressional districts.’
“Senate Bill 355, known as Ad Astra 2, does not follow these guidelines and provides no justification for deviation from those guidelines. Wyandotte County is carved into two separate congressional districts. Without explanation, this map shifts 46% of the Black population and 33% of the Hispanic population out of the third congressional district by dividing the Hispanic neighborhoods of Quindaro Bluffs, Bethel-Welborn, Strawberry Hill, Armourdale and others from Argentine, Turner and the rest of Kansas City, Kansas south of I-70. To replace lost population in the third district, this map adds in counties that are more rural to the south and west of the core of the Kansas City metropolitan area.
“Ad Astra 2 also separates the city of Lawrence from Douglas County and inserts urban precincts of Lawrence into the largely rural Big First Congressional District, reducing the strength of communities of interest in Western Kansas and unnecessarily dividing communities of interest in Eastern Kansas.
“Several alternatives would allow for the same deviation as Ad Astra 2 while protecting the core of the existing congressional districts and without diluting minority communities’ voting strength. I am ready to work with the Legislature in a bipartisan fashion to pass a new congressional map that addresses the constitutional issues in Senate Bill 355. Together, we can come to a consensus and pass a compromise that empowers all people of Kansas.
“For those reasons, under Article 2, Section 14(a) of the Constitution, I hereby veto Senate Bill 355.”