The Kansas Senate unanimously approved a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would end the state's unique practice of spending about $830,000 every decade to ask college students and military members where they want to be counted for the U.S. census.
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab requested changing the Kansas Constitution to eliminate the "burdensome, antiquated and expensive” process for adjusting census figures before redrawing House and Senate district boundaries. The state constitution requires the secretary of state to contact soldiers and students to discern where each wants to be counted for redistricting purposes.
If adopted by two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, the change would be placed before statewide voters in November. A simple majority of people voting on the constitutional question will determine whether the census adjustment ends or continues in Kansas.
Passage of Senate Resolution 1605 leaves the issue in the hands of the House, which hasn't taken action on an identical measure known as House Concurrent Resolution 5005.
"Kansas is the only state in the nation that continues to adjust census numbers. I think this provision of the constitution is a waste," Schwab said.
Meanwhile, the Republican-led Senate voted 40-0 to confirm appointment of physician Lee Norman as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Norman was nominated by Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat.
"I want to thank Dr. Lee Norman for his service to the state," said Sen. Gene Suellentrop, R-Wichita. "His credentials are outstanding."
Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, didn't vote for Senate Bill 69, authorizing an electric utility rate study by a private consultant hired by the Legislature at an estimated cost of $1 million. Some consumer groups and legislators believe the state's electric rates are higher than in neighboring states.
The Senate voted 38-1 to send the study bill to the House despite initial opposition by utility companies and the Kansas Corporation Commission.
"I am concerned that we are also asking some questions that we can already answer and not asking for other information we may need to craft the forward-looking electric policy we desire," Francisco said.