“It is pretty universal, Kansas included, each party wants to put itself in the advantage,” says Wichita State University political science professor Mel Kahn. “At other times it’s politically very much at evidence within a party when you have certain challengers going after incumbents.”
This year a number of moderate Republicans in the Senate are facing re-election primary battles from more conservative members of the Republican Party.
“Right now there are members of the House that would like to take on members of the Senate within the Republican Party,” says Kahn. “It’s kind of an ideological division between moderates and social conservatives.”
With at 72-43 vote on May 2nd, the Kansas House rejected a Senate map that was approved by the Senate. Breaking from tradition, the House drafted its own map for the Senate and is set to debate their version of the map today.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach has warned that the primary elections scheduled to be held on August 7th could be postponed if the Kansas legislature cannot agree on the new House and Senate maps by mid-May.
If the two sides cannot agree on the proposed redistricting plans, the issue will move to the judicial branch, where the Attorney General’s office will have 15 days to present a petition to the Kansas Supreme Court.
The court will publish public notices and set a hearing where members from the House, Senate and other “interested persons” may speak. The justices are required to rule on the proposed maps within 30 days.
Keefover says that if no decision is reached by state legislators, it would be the first time in his 30 years at the court that the legislature failed to reach an agreement on redistricting.
There is little precedent for what the Supreme Court may do but the Kansas Constitution states that the justices will make a ruling that must be adopted by the legislature.
Article 10 of the Kansas Constitution says, “Should the supreme court determine that the reapportionment statute is invalid, the legislature shall enact a statute of reapportionment conforming to the judgment of the Supreme Court within 15 days.” The Supreme Court would review any final reapportionment plan.
The 90 day legislative session is scheduled to end this Friday but with major redistricting issues still unsettled, legislators in Topeka may have to settle in for additional days of debate that could lead to the Kansas Supreme Court.