gov. Laura Kelly signed Friday new district lines for the Kansas Senate, Kansas House and Kansas State Board of Education, though court review is still required.
There is potential for a legal challenge to the board of education maps, officials said earlier this week, with the new lines drawing outrage from members of the panel when they were approved last month.
The move comes as a set of GOP-authored Congressional maps are being challenged in state court.
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Kansas attorney general to seek approval for maps
The state Senate and House maps were mildly contested in the Legislature, particularly in the Senate where the map will create a fourth, Democrat-leaning district in Topeka and Lawrence.
The lines will need to undergo review by the Kansas Supreme Court and Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement he would “promptly” seek their approval.
“The new legislative district boundaries appear to satisfy all legal requirements previously established by state constitutional, statutory or common law,” Schmidt said in a statement.
State Board of Education Chair Jim Porter, board member Janet Waugh and education commissioner Randy Watson had met with Kelly earlier this week to raise concerns over several education-related bills that Kelly is either considering, including the state board’s redistricting map.
After the meeting Porter said it seems likely that Kelly will not veto the redistricted state education board map, since it’s tied to other redistricting maps.
But he said he understands an outside group is set to legally challenge the maps in the Kansas Supreme Court before they become law.
“In her message (if she passes the maps), we asked if she would indicate that she disapproves of our map, and that would give us some status,” Porter said.
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Senate president wants conservative candidates for KSBOE
Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said the new board of education lines were in part designed to break up an entity he called “monolithic,” saying it was his hope the new lines might inspire a more conservative slate of candidates to run for office.
“There’s some reason we need some some shake up and some change on that board,” Masterson told reporters last month.
But the new lines drew criticism from board members, including cries of gerrymandering. The maps draw four incumbent members together and split the Kansas City area, with Wyandotte County divided into three districts.
One of those districts also includes one Topeka-area district, Shawnee Heights USD 450, while the other Topeka schools are consolidated into a separate board of education district.
Andrew Bahl is a senior statehouse reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 443-979-6100.