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.
Tennessee Tea Party activists are actively vetting potential candidates who would challenge Republican Senator Lamar Alexander from the right.
Later this month, those wanting to take on Alexander in next year’s GOP primary will address tea party activists in Nashville. The Tennessean reports that Nashville Tea Party President Ben Cunningham says a “very serious process” is underway to find a consensus Tea Party challenger to take on Alexander in 2014.
It’s the latest example of the Tea Party challenging GOP incumbents it believes are not sufficiently conservative. The tactic has backfired in some states, including Indiana, where the Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock knocked off longtime Republican moderate Richard Lugar in the 2012 primary, only to lose to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election later that year.
Some potential Tea Party challengers to Alexander are former GOP state representative and senator Tim Burchett, former chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party Kevin Kookogey, and Brenda Lenard, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Republican Sen. Bob Corker last year.
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 Senator Rand Paul says while he wants Republicans to continue fighting for changes in the President’s health care plan, he doesn’t support a shutdown of the federal government.
Some member of the GOP say they’re willing to risk a shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Paul told reporters in Louisville that he’s in favor of Republicans using “leverage” to make the federal health care law “less bad.”
Some conservatives say they won’t vote for any spending measure that provides funding for the President’s health care plan. That’s leading to speculation over a possible government shutdown at the end of September.
The Courier-Journal reports Sen. Paul said that while he would like to see the Affordable Care Act defunded, the Bowling Green Republican added "I know that we don’t control all of the government, so we fight for what we can get.”
Democrats say the controversy over the federal health care law was settled when its legality was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act have warned Republicans that they’ll face a public backlash if they try to shut down government operations in an effort to defund the program.