Butler County Republican Representative C.B. Embry, Jr., has a major stake in the new legislative maps that will come out of that session. Embry and two other GOP Representatives--Jim DeCesare of Warren County and Michael Meredith of Edmonson County--were placed in the same district under maps that were passed earlier this year by the House, but rejected by the Senate.
Embry told WKU Public Radio he's not sure next month's special session will be the last word on the redistricting issue.
"I hope this doesn't happen, that the passing of the redistricting plan might again be unconstitutional and wind up in the courts," said Embry, whose district covers Butler and Grayson counties, as well as part of Hardin County. "If that should happen, I think the courts will draw the lines rather than the General Assembly."
The state Supreme Court threw out maps passed last year by lawmakers, finding that the plans were unconstitutional because they weren't balanced by population. Lawmakers tried, and failed again, during the 2013 General Assembly to get new legislative boundaries passed.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear just announced a proclamation calling lawmakers back to Frankfort Aug. 19 for a special session dealing with legislative and judicial redistricting.
The Democratic-led House passed redistricting maps during this year's General Assembly, but they were voted down by Senate Republicans. Beshear has said he wants lawmakers to have an agreement in place before the start of the special session, so that it lasts the minimum of five days.
"Leaders in both chambers have indicated to me a willingness to utilize the same census numbers for legislative and judicial redistricting as were used for Congressional redistricting in 2012," Beshear said in a news release. "This will make all redistricting plans consistent and avoid having to address Congressional redistricting again. I have therefore not included Congressional redistricting on the agenda for the upcoming special session."
Kentucky lawmakers will go into special session later this year to craft new maps of political districts based on the most recent U.S. Census data. Legislative leaders want a tentative agreement in place before returning to Frankfort, but one of the hang-ups is whether to include federal prisoners being held in the commonwealth.
Kentucky law says a prison cell is not a residence, and the inmate population can, but doesn't have to be taken into account when drawing political maps. State lawmakers counted federal prisoners when they approved a new Congressional map last year. That map was upheld by a judge while the legislative and judicial maps were ruled unconstitutional.
Lawmakers will use this year's special session to redraw legislative and judicial maps. Legislative leaders agree on the need for consistency, and contend they can't use one set of data for one map and different data for another. House Speaker Greg Stumbo wants the congressional map amended and argues it would have a minimal impact on districts.
"There's only about 8,500 federal prisoners and the average congressional district is 770,000," explains Stumbo.
Senate President Robert Stivers argues consulting again with each congressman would prolong a costly special session.
"So now we get into a situation where we're engaging the federal delegation in a special session issue," remarks Stivers.
Gov. Steve Beshear was meeting Monday afternoon with House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers to try to work on a plan to resolve legislative redistricting.
The governor has said he is confident that the issue will be resolved in a special session sometime this year.
Each decade, lawmakers are required to draw new legislative district boundaries to account for population changes recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring changes in boundary lines to comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate.
Two federal lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks to speed up the process in Kentucky. One asks that a three-judge panel redraw boundaries.
The chairman of the State Government Committee in the Kentucky House says he's not sure when Governor Beshear will call lawmakers back to Frankfort for a special session.
Muhlenberg County Democrat Brent Yonts says the governor informed him at the conclusion of this year's regular session that he wanted lawmakers to figure out a solution to legislative redistricting before January.
"I'm hoping it will not be in July or August when most of us are traveling a lot," Yonts told WKU Public Radio. "If it's going to happen, I hope it's early September or possibly in June. But he hasn't communicated to me exactly when it's going to happen."
Governor Beshear recently said he is considering a special session sometime in the fall. Kentucky's legislative boundaries have to be redrawn to reflect the most recent U.S. Census data.
Earlier this year the House passed new maps that were rejected by the Senate. Now the state is facing two lawsuits alleging lawmakers have been negligent in not getting new boundaries drawn.
The timing of a special legislative session remains uncertain, though Gov. Steve Beshear and top lawmakers have been tossing around potential dates.
Beshear wants lawmakers back in Frankfort before the end of the year to resolve the lingering issue of legislative redistricting, a politically divisive issue that tends to overshadow all other matters when it's up for consideration.
The governor said he wants the issue resolved before lawmakers begin budget talks in January.
Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate.
The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down lawmakers' initial redistricting plan last year, forcing them to start over.
A Warren County lawmaker says he agrees with Governor Steve Beshear on the need to get legislative redistricting maps done before the 2014 General Assembly.
Bowling Green Representative Jody Richards told WKU Public Radio he hopes House and Senate leaders can come to an agreement on new maps ahead of a possible special legislative session this fall.
"I hope that everybody gets together, and that we do a five-day session, which is the quickest you can possibly do," said Richards. "We don't need to get up there and argue. Everything needs to be settled before we go."
Richards says two lawsuits filed against the state over the lack of a redistricting plan are adding to the urgency lawmakers feel about getting new maps passed. Those lawsuits were filed by a group of county clerks in northern Kentucky and the state chapter of the ACLU, and accuse the state of violating federal law by not having in place new legislative maps based on the latest U.S. Census data.
The House State Government committee has advanced a new redistricting map to the House floor after weeks of closed door debate.
Last year's state House and Senate districts were ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court after House GOP members challenged them in court. The new House districts would create seven new districts all across Kentucky, where no current lawmakers reside.
Those districts are:
House District 1 -- Fulton, Hickman Carlisle and Ballard counties, with parts of Graves County.
House District 19 -- Warren County/Bowling Green
District 36 -- East Louisville
District 49 -- Bullitt County
District 54 -- Anderson, Shelby and part of Bullitt county
District 88 -- Fayette County/Lexington
District 96 -- Powell, Estill and part of Madison county.
Despite a request from Gov. Steve Beshear to put off redistricting until later this year, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo is moving forward with getting proposals on the divisive issue.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Stumbo sent a letter to House members asking them to submit proposed boundaries for new legislative districts by Feb. 1.
Stumbo said after the proposals come in, lawmakers would decide whether to try to tackle redistricting during the 2013 General Assembly, which resumes on Feb. 5 and is set to end March 26. Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Democrat from Owensboro, told WKU Public Radio he hopes lawmakers take up redistricting this year instead of putting it off until 2014, when House and Senate elections will be held.