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Gov. Kelly expects redistricting lawsuit after veto override: ‘The map is really bad for Kansas'

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly appeared on KCUR’s Up To Date to talk about the legislature overriding her veto of redistricting plans, her bid to attract a private company to build a manufacturing plant in Kansas, and eliminating the state food sales tax.

Redistricting

On Wednesday, Kansas House Republicans joined with the Senate to override the governor’s veto of a congressional redistricting plan, which has drawn criticism and lawsuit threats for dividing minority communities in the Kansas City area.

Speaking with Up To Date host Steve Kraske, Kelly said she's not surprised by the actions, but that she expected the decision to ultimately be decided by the courts. She called the map unconstitutional and expects the National Democratic Redistricting Committee to file a suit in Kansas to challenge it.

“The map is really bad for Kansas because it separates real communities of interests, in ways that disenfranchise select groups,” Kelly said. "There's no doubt that the way Wyandotte County was cut in half, in this map, that will not disenfranchise our communities of color.”

Tax incentives

Kelly told Kraske she’s feeling confident that Kansas will be chosen by a private company looking to spend $4 billion on a new manufacturing plant. Officials say the company could create 4,000 new jobs in the state.

The identity of the company has not been revealed, but Kelly said “it would add to the state's advanced manufacturing portfolio.” Eighty sites around the country applied for the plant, but Kansas and one other state are the only finalists.

State officials submitted their offer on Thursday, just ahead of the company’s deadline, following the passage of the Attracting Powerful Economic Expansion (APEX) Act. That bill includes a package of incentives worth about $1.5 billion over several years.

“Just from the conversation we’ve had, we know what this company needs and wants, and we think we’ve addressed those issues in the bid we’ve presented yesterday,” Kelly said.

A decision is expected as soon as March.

Food sales tax

Currently, Kansas is one of seven states in the nation that fully taxes groceries. The food sales tax rate is 6.5%, the second-highest rate in the country.

Kelly has said she wants to eliminate the tax completely.

“By being as fiscally responsible and growing the economy as much as we have in the past three years, we are in a position now to just eliminate the food sales tax completely,” Kelly said.

Kelly said she hopes to have a legislative package soon for the food sales tax elimination. But she says it may take time because extraneous provisions got attached to the bill in a Senate committee.

Racist deeds

The city of Roeland Park, Kansas, has drawn concerns over the discovery of racist language in its property deeds, which state that “properties shall never be conveyed, devised, leased, rented, used, owned or occupied by any one of Negro blood.”

Kelly said she is surprised by the language and is working with local officials to get it changed, although she says she will not issue an executive order.

However, Kelly did recommend legislative action that would allow communities to strike discriminatory text from deeds on file with the county recorder.

“The fastest, easiest, most cost-effective way to deal with this would be to have the legislature do something to blanket and help all of our local communities,” Kelly said.

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
Jacob Martin is a news intern at KCUR. Follow him on Twitter @jacob_noah or email him at Jacobmartin@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz