If you've been on I-65 in south-central Kentucky in recent years, you know the road has been undergoing a major facelift. A lawmaker from the region says he and his colleagues are continuing to look at ways to speed up the ongoing interstate lane widening.
Representative Michael Meredith of Brownsville tells WKU Public Radio that many legislators from the region remain interested in a possible public-private partnership that could drastically cut down on what they fear will be a 20-year project.
Meredith said while the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has expressed concerns over such a partnership, the state's Legislative Research Commission believes such a union is legal.
"There have been some offers made by some contractors to partially finance that project," said the Edmonson County Republican. "And as lawmakers in this region, we're especially open to those ideas. And there's some money still set aside in the budget to study some of those issues and see if there's a possibility of moving it along a little faster than what it is now."
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.
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.
With the 2013 Kentucky legislative session not far away, a lot of focus has been placed on the man considered to have the best chance of becoming the next Senate President. Republican Robert Stivers is expected to take over leadership of the chamber from David Williams, the Cumberland County Republican who resigned to become a circuit court judge in southern Kentucky.
A GOP lawmaker from our region told WKU Public Radio he doesn't believe there will be a great deal of policy change under the new Senate leader.
Rep. Michael Meredith of Edmonson County says the biggest difference could be in personality.
"David has been one of the most intelligent people to serve in the city of Frankfort for many, many years. He was very well-versed on policy, very well-versed on issues, but could be a very divisive character as well. And I can see some changes in that. Robert could very well not be as divisive as David was," said Meredith.