Kansas legislators aren’t even officially back in session, yet the drama and craziness already has begun.
Is redistricting congressional or legislative districts seriously at the top of Kansas residents’ priority list? It seems apparent that most Kansans are concerned about the economy, jobs and taxes, lest the Sunflower State face its own fiscal cliff. So why are lawmakers — led by the most conservative among them — considering a rehash of this year’s prolonged redistricting fiasco?
Legislators already had their turn at redrawing congressional districts, and they blew it. Consequently, despite millions of dollars and human resources spent crafting new districts this year, lawmakers were unable to reach consensus, and the decision was left to others to fix. Three federal judges performed the redistricting job easily enough in just a few days — greatly impacting the August primary and November general elections.
The state’s constitution mandates the Legislature redraw districts the second year of every decade to align with the latest census. The constitution doesn’t say lawmakers may keep changing the boundaries until they are gerrymandered precisely the way those newest to come to power want them to be.
Newly selected Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said in an Associated Press report, “Why not try?”
Why not? Because the changes already were made and the state has more important issues to deal with than to play politics that serve one party rather than dealing with urgent issues impacting Kansans throughout the state. Where the heck did common sense and working for the constituents go?
Of course, Wagle and her team also should think about the money revisiting redistricting will cost. Nearly $670,000 in outstanding legal bills have been submitted by more than half of the attorneys involved in the redistricting lawsuit that prompted the engagement of the judicial branch. That means the total legal fees could rise to more than $1.5 million. Surely the state has other needs for that kind of cash. If it doesn’t, then legislators ought to send it back to taxpayers rather than wasting it on pandering and political gamesmanship. The state doesn’t have nor should it want to waste more of our money going through these redistricting shenanigans again.
Legislators should leave redistricting alone until the issue is up for consideration again in 10 years. Lawmakers instead should be focusing on the economy, jobs and taxes. Why not try?
— Jeanny Sharp,
editor and publisher