Kansas lawmakers to hold second round of redistribution town halls in November


TOPEKA – Kansas lawmakers said on Tuesday they would hold a second round of town halls to gather public comment on the redistribution process, but they would not attend the meetings in person.

The House and Senate redistribution committees will hold four meetings at the end of next month, organized by congressional district. The Kansans can visit one of the various sites set up in cities across the state or join lawmakers online to testify virtually.

All committee members will be present via the web.

Republican leaders have scheduled 14 town halls in August to gather opinions on how political borders should be redrawn for 2022. The schedule was announced on a Friday night just nine days before the first of the meetings, most of which took place during the working day. Full US census data had not yet been released.

Democrats, election advocates and forum speakers have complained about the process and called for a new round of town halls.

“It’s important to remember that the redistribution is a multi-year process that starts with these town halls to get a feel for what the Kansans want,” Speaker Ron Ryckman R-Olathe said in a statement from August. “An additional public contribution will be necessary. “

All second round meetings will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Kansans can testify in person for the 2nd District on November 22 in Atchison, Ottawa, Independence or on the Indian reservations; the 1st District on November 23 at Emporia, Great Bend, Liberal or McPherson; the 4th arrondissement on November 29 in Newton or El Dorado; and the 3rd District on November 30 at Bonner Springs or Stilwell.

Those wishing to testify must notify the Kansas Legislative Research Department at least 24 hours in advance. Kansans can also submit a written testimonial.

Senator Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa, said she hoped there would be guidelines for the redistribution process in place before the next round to further clarify the public on the redistribution objectives.

“I think we got a good direction from these original town halls, and many want to know, what are the criteria we are looking for? What are we responsible for as we redraw these maps? Sykes said at a meeting of the Legislative Coordination Council.

“Your feelings and hopes are duly noted,” Senate Speaker Ty Masterson R-Andover said in response.

The value of having these town halls is diluted without guidelines in place, said Davis Hammett, CEO and chairman of Loud Light. He said it’s currently unclear what Kansans should testify about.

“I am very worried and I think these questions need to be answered,” Hammet said. “Why should someone testify, right?” This is what needs to be clarified. Why haven’t these basic things been addressed yet? “

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