Kansas Senator Jeff Longbine and representatives Mark Schreiber and Eric Smith discussed redistricting maps and the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion Act (APEX) at a legislative dialogue on Saturday at Flint Hills Technical College.
The Emporia Chamber of Commerce and League of Women Voters hosted the event.
APEX would give a plot of land to a company that is expected to create 4,000 jobs and is a large financial investment for whichever state makes the deal. Currently there is speculation that Kansas’ competitor is Oklahoma.
The bill has sparked conversations due to the secrecy behind the matter. Kansans are unaware who the company legislature is offering $1 billion tax breaks, subsidies and funding to is. Legislators themselves are not told who the company is without signing a non-disclosure agreement.
“I do not know the identity of the company and I was offered to sign a non-disclosure agreement,” Longbine said. “Quite frankly I didn’t want to do it because I’ve been asked 150 times ‘who is it’ and I didn’t want to have to say I can’t tell you. I’d rather just tell you I don’t know.”
Schreiber and Smith also do not know who the company is.
Longbine, Scheiber and Smith are all in favor of this bill and deal with the hopes that it will help further finance Kansas. Through the promise of 4,000 new jobs and a $4 billion investment into the state through this deal.
“We do know it will be in Northeast Kansas. My suspicion is possibly the retired ammunition plant near Desoto,” said Longbine. “It could be in Eastern Douglas County or Western Wyandotte County or up around the Tonganoxie area, there is some land available up there. But this is a huge opportunity for the state of Kansas.”
The legislature is also currently deciding between two new district maps, the Blue Stem map and the Ad Astra 2 map.
When legislation redistricts and remaps the state after each census, it changes the functions of the state and at a localized level. Certain counties could be split or redistricted changing who their representatives are, ac-cording to Smith.
Longbine, Schreiber and Smith are in support of the Ad Astra map for a few different reasons but the largest being that it does not split Lyon County and does not heavily change the nearby area’s placements.
“What you try to do is you try to come up with the best set of numbers that you can with the least amount of deviation,” said Smith. “There was zero amount of deviation in this (Ad Astra) map. Which was one thing we were shooting for.”
They were also made aware that this map will most likely go to the Kansas Supreme Court to determine if gerrymandering was at play in its making.
Another legislative dialogue will be held March 19 at Flint Hills Technical College. The live-stream of the dialogue can be found on the Emporia Chamber of Commerce Facebook page and can still be viewed.