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 judge will rule "as soon as possible" on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the legality of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange that Governor Steve Beshear created last year by executive order.
Beshear said the Health Benefits Exchange would help uninsured Kentuckians arrange insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Tea Party activist David Adams filed a lawsuit claiming that Beshear created the exchange without necessary legislative approval. Adams is asking Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd to order work on the exchange to cease. Shepherd held a hearing on the issue Monday morning in Frankfort.
Attorneys for Beshear asked Shepherd to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Adams and others who filed it lack legal standing to do so.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo has offered a Senate redistricting plan in hopes of speeding up what's become a drawn out process.
Stumbo said Monday that delaying legislative redistricting makes it more likely that judges will step in to realign political boundaries in the state. Two federal lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks; one seeking to force lawmakers to take action and another asking for a panel of judges to redraw political lines.
House Republican leader Jeff Hoover said Kentuckians may be better off having federal judges draw a redistricting plan that would place people above politics. That, Hoover said, would also eliminate the need for Governor Steve Beshear to call lawmakers back into a special session that would cost $300,000 a week.
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.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is encouraging Governor Steve Beshear to call a special session for redistricting to help end a federal lawsuit.
Last week several county clerks in Northern Kentucky filed a lawsuit claiming the state's inability to finish redistricting violates federal law.
In response, Stumbo released a letter he has sent to the governor, encouraging Beshear to call a special session soon to pass redistricting maps.
Stumbo says it's pointless to waste money on litigation when House lawmakers have already passed a new redistricting plan. Senate leaders have said they wanted to wait until the 2014 session to pass the maps.
Beshear says he's open to a special session on redistricting, but wants to make sure all parties are ready so costs can be minimized. It costs taxpayers $60,000 a day for a special session.
Kentucky House and Senate leaders have changed the schedule of this year's legislative session to avoid a special session.
A potential—and costly—special session has loomed over the General Assembly in recent days, as lawmakers continued work on pension reform. Instead of convening Friday, lawmakers will work on Tuesday, with hopes that talks started Thursday night could lead to an agreement on pension reform by then.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo says those talks have included the Governor and Senate leaders.
"The only conversation that we've had with them has obviously revolved around pensions, funding of pension liabilities and just a brief conversation about redistricting," he says.