Monday, October 29, 2018

Opinion: Hawver Reports

By Martin Hawver

We’ve come to the point in the campaigns that political ad after political ad after political ad drag on long enough that there’s time to microwave popcorn and not miss the cop show on television.
Martin Hawver
Yes, and for those of you who have other things to think about during the commercials…one of those thoughts might just be what happens to the Kansas Legislature after the next federal census in 2020.
That’ll be the 24th national census, and it is designed to tell us what the population of the nation is, and where those people are located—and likely whether Kansas remains a four-congressional district state.
Is that official April 1, 2020, headcount a little far off? Why think about it now? Well, if you live in one of those Kansas House or Senate districts out west, say, west of US-81, the north-south Interstate that is the dividing line between western Kansas and eastern Kansas, you might want to start thinking about it now.
It’ll be 2022 when the first statewide election occurs after the census, based on that federal census and where it says the people are. That’s the key data for reapportionment of Kansas House and Senate districts. Oh…and the state’s four congressional districts.
And that reapportionment is based on U.S. Census population data which the Legislature will spend more than a year dissecting into 40 Senate districts and 125 House districts, and, yes, those four Congressional districts.
What’s worth thinking about now ahead of that reapportionment? Probably for much of western Kansas it’s what the Republican Party efforts to further regulate immigration and the “close the border” talk has to do with populations out west of US-81.
Yes, it is western Kansas, with its agriculture and food processing industry that stands the best chance of seeing foreign workers not participating in the census or maybe misstating their legal citizenship for fear of deportation. Oh, and there are lots of foreign-born workers and their children in other parts of the state, too.
Now, the GOP and President Donald Trump make a decent case that immigrants should come across the border with Mexico legally. They ought to get the visas and such, and probably some clearly defined path to becoming a full United States citizen, with a stake in how this country is run, and the right to vote.
But this concentration on immigration, while a strong national political issue, will undoubtedly have some effect on headcount in the census.
So, if the historic trend of adults and their children moving out of western Kansas is accelerated by federal immigration regulation that makes the census inaccurate, count on many who have come to this country and state for a better life to decide just not to participate.
And that means likely less census-counted population in parts of western Kansas, and by the time the Legislature has mapped out new House and Senate districts based on population, fewer state representatives and senators from areas where the population count is down.
That means fewer, and larger, Kansas House and Senate districts out west, and likely more districts in urban areas of eastern Kansas—Wichita, Topeka, and Missouri-bordered northeast Kansas counties.
Now, it’s based on population, and that’s fair, but it likely means less attention will be paid to western Kansas (except for highways) and more attention to population-heavy areas based on their representation in the House and Senate because the members of the House and Senate will be tilted toward urban areas—which, by the way, are easier to gerrymander based on voter political registration.
Something to think about during those commercials, isn’t it?
Syndicated by Hawver News Company LLC of Topeka; Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver's Capitol Report—to learn more about this nonpartisan statewide political news service, visit the website at

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