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.
This week, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is expected to issue the date for a special session on redistricting. He met last week with legislative leaders to plan for the session, amid growing pressure to finish the task.
The state supreme court ruled the General Assembly’s first attempt at redrawing political boundaries unconstitutional. Two lawsuits have been filed seeking to speed up the process, and one calls for redistricting to be done by federal judges, but Governor Beshear says that’s not the way to go.
“You know, the courts are sort of divorced from the political setting and the legislature needs to take care of its own business and take care of its own districts and so, they’re gonna step up and do that," Beshear says.
The goal is for lawmakers to have a tentative agreement before they return to Frankfort to avoid a lengthy special session, which would cost taxpayers about $60,000 a day. It takes at least five days for a bill to work through Kentucky's legislative process, which means taxpayers would foot at least a $300,000 bill.
If you're a member of Congress and you didn't know about the National Security Agency's phone records program before it was disclosed last week, President Obama has this to say to you: Where have you been?
"When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program," Obama said to reporters last Friday.
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.
Delinquent Kentucky taxpayers beware--you could soon lose a variety of state-issued licenses.
It turns out that people who fall behind on their income taxes in Kentucky are subject to losing state licenses to drive, practice law, even cut hair.
The consequences came as a surprise to some state legislators who were unaware of the provision that was tucked into a law they passed on the final day of this year's legislative session.
Democratic state Rep. Hubert Collins of Wittensville, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said the measure slipped through in a complex pension reform bill.
Republican Sen. Ernie Harris of Crestwood, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the measure makes little sense because it takes away people's ability to work, leaving them unable to pay taxes. Harris said the provision never would have passed if it had come through his committee.
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.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is on a west-coast fundraising swing this week that includes stops at some of the country’s most well-known and respected technology companies.
Senator Paul is considering a 2016 presidential bid, and the Wall Street Journal reports this week’s visit to the west coast is part of his effort to reach out to groups not normally associated with the GOP.
Yesterday, Paul held a private town hall meeting for Google employees at the company’s Mountain View, California campus. The Bowling Green Republican is also making fundraising stops at Facebook and eBay.
Paul has been outspoken about the need for the Republican Party to reach out to groups that normally don’t vote for the GOP, including African-Americans and young people along the West Coast.
Paul says many employees at place like Google and Facebook are likely more fiscally conservative than President Obama, but are turned off by the GOP because they see the party as too far to the right on social issues.
The race for a House seat representing Kentucky 56th District is getting pricey.
The Courier-Journal reports the three candidates have so far raised a combined total of $147,000 for the seat of Democrat Carl Rollins, who stepped down after being named as head of the state student financial aid agency.
In contrast, Rollins and his opponent raised a combined total of $96,000 for the 2012 general election campaign.
A special election for the seat that includes Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin is set for June 25. The candidates vying for the seat are Democrat James Kay, Republican Lyen Crews and independent John-Mark Hack.
A new online advertisement from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign focuses on the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS—an issue the campaign says it's not going to let slip out of the public discourse.
The nearly three minute ad uses speeches from McConnell on the IRS issue before it became a national controversy, as well as media reports and testimony from IRS officials to Congress.
It also includes a sound bite from former President Richard Nixon speaking in an interview he did on the Watergate scandal during his term as president—a comparison between Nixon and President Barack Obama.
In an interview, McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton says that neither the senator nor his campaign will allow the IRS targeting to stray too far away from the 24/7 news cycle nationally or in Kentucky.