Monday is day one of what Kentucky lawmakers hope will be a quick special legislative session devoted to creating new redistricting maps.
Both Republicans and Democrats have unveiled proposed maps, and lawmakers from both parties have said they believe an agreement can be reached by Friday.
The latest redistricting effort has dragged on over a year, with one set of maps being thrown out by the state supreme court in 2012. That's leading some to wonder if Kentucky should consider creating an independent, non-partisan committee that would be in charge of drawing new legislative maps every ten years.
Daviess County Democratic Representative Tommy Thompson told WKU Public Radio it's an idea he'd consider.
"I certainly would not be opposed to looking at the possibility of having an independent commission actually do the redistricting itself, and I'd be surprised if we didn't have some bills that came up when we go back to the regular session in January that propose that," said Rep. Thompson.
Edmonson County Republican Representative Michael Meredith has said he would also consider the creation of an independent redistricting commission. But he says he would want lawmakers to ultimately have an up-or-down vote on any maps such a commission produced.
House Democrats are scheduled to release a legislative redistricting plan on Friday, one day after Senate Republicans unveiled their proposal.
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo called a press conference for 1 p.m. EDT at the Capitol to discuss the proposal, which is expected to be voted on in special session that begins on Monday. The last one Stumbo proposed would have pitted 11 House Republicans against each other.
On Thursday, Senate President Robert Stivers unveiled a proposed map for his chamber that would pit no incumbents against each other in upcoming elections.
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 high court struck down lawmakers' initial redistricting plan last year, finding that the proposed districts weren't balanced by population and didn't comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate.
Kentucky House Republican leaders are offering a legislative redistricting plan that would force eight incumbents to run against each other next year.
The map unveiled Thursday by House GOP Leader Jeff Hoover affects four Republicans and four Democratic lawmakers.
Hoover told WKU Public Radio the GOP plan is very different from a plan put forth earlier this year by Democrats that had nine Republicans running against each other, but no Democrats.
"What we put forward was a much fairer plan that puts one pair of Democratic incumbents against each other, one pair of Republican incumbents against each other, and two mixed pairings where there is an incumbent Republican against an incumbent Democrat," explains Hoover.
Given population shifts in Kentucky over the past decade, Hoover says it's impossible to redraw legislative boundaries without pitting incumbents against each other.
A Bowling Green lawmaker says a legislative redistricting plan under consideration would not place three southern Kentucky GOP incumbents in the same district.
A plan put forth by House Democrats earlier this year would have placed Warren County's Jim DeCesare, Brownsville's Michael Meredith, and Morgantown's C.B. Embry Junior in one House district. But Democratic Representative Jody Richards told WKU Public Radio that such a plan is no longer being considered.
"Now, C.B. Embry and Jim DeCesare may well run together, but most of that district would be in Warren County," said Richards.
Kentucky lawmakers will meet in Frankfort next month for a special session to draw new legislative maps based on the latest U.S. Census data. Both Richards and Warren County Republican Senator Mike Wilson told WKU Public Radio they believe lawmakers can get a deal done over the course of five days--that's the quickest a special session can start and finish under state law.