MATT RESNICK 

Partisan lines will soon be drawn, and the 3rd Congressional District is a top priority for Republicans in their quest to oust Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids.

Davids’ decisive victory in the 2018 midterms continues to have national implications, as the Democratic Party looks to hold onto their slim majority in the House of Representatives.

Gerrymandering, by definition, is the act of manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class. A recent report by Axios cites Kansas as being at “extreme risk” for gerrymandering.

“This year’s redistricting process is already more chaotic than usual, and the outcomes could boost one party’s political candidates for a decade,” the Axios article stated.

With Kansas’ GOP-led legislature helming the process, the state’s map is slated to be redrawn later this year. The 3rd Congressional District includes Johnson and Wyandotte counties, as well as parts of Miami County. The primary aim for the GOP is to make the boundaries of Davids’ district more Republican-hospitable.

A decade ago, the Kansas legislature was deadlocked on the redrawing of the state’s map. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly recently spoke with The Tribune about the issue.

“I was there in the (Kansas) Senate when all of that happened (in 2011-12) and the legislature was never able to come up with anything,” Kelly said. “So three federal judges over in Kansas City, Kansas, drew our map for us. They did in three days what we couldn’t get done in a year and a half. So we will see what happens this year.”

Kelly described the process as highly partisan.

“There will obviously be a lot of attempts to do redistricting in a way that is partisan and favors one party over the other,” she said, “and allows for legislators to choose their voters, versus voters being able to choose their legislators. So we’ll have to work hard on that and ensure that we get as fair and representative of a map as we possibly can.”

 

Scholarship program

Governor Kelly recently signed the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act. The House bill establishes a scholarship program that will increase Kansans’ access to community and technical educational institutions, and will support the Governor’s efforts to build the workforce needed to support a thriving economy.

The Kansas Promise Scholarship Act provides scholarships for students to attend an eligible postsecondary institution for any two-year Associate Degree program, Career and Technical Education (CTE) certificate, or stand-alone program otherwise identified by the Kansas Board of Regents.

“This scholarship program honors my administration’s promise to invest in our students and in our businesses to create opportunities for all Kansans, in every corner of the state,” Governor Kelly said in a press release. “I want to thank the Legislature for working with me in a bipartisan fashion to ensure Kansas students have access to the resources they need to succeed, and build a robust pipeline of skilled workers to support future economic growth.”

Neosho County Community College President Dr. Brian Inbody is pleased with the legislation.

“It will help any recent Kansas high school graduate and any adult who has lived in the state more than three years go through selected CTE programs for free,” he said. “The student has to apply for financial aid, but if there is an outstanding bill for tuition, fees or books after aid and other scholarships are applied, then the Act would pay the rest.

“The architects of the bill wanted as many folks as possible to take advantage of it to ensure Kansas businesses have the workforce they need to grow and thrive, so as many hurdles as possi

ble were removed.”

 

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Kelly recently urged those in the hospitality industry to apply for federal funding through the Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

“These RRF grants will boost our hospitality industry and aid our continued economic recovery as we get our state back to normal,” Kelly said in a press release. “I strongly encourage all eligible businesses to apply for this program, and thank the SBA for their partnership to provide relief for Kansas businesses.”

Lieutenant Governor and Department of Commerce Secretary David Toland said restaurants are vital to the state’s hospitality sector, and that the program exists for the sole purpose of aiding them.

“Hospitality businesses have been incredibly resilient through this historic and unprecedented challenge, and restaurants have had to be creative to get through the storm,” Toland said. “This program is a lifeline for them, and I would encourage all Kansas restaurant owners who need help to take full advantage.”

Entities eligible for RRF grants include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, food carts, caterers, bars, saloons, lounges and taverns, as well as snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars.

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