A Warren County lawmaker says he's not panicking yet about the new redistricting maps passed by a House committee Tuesday. If the maps became a reality, Republican Representative Jim DeCesare would find himself in a new district alongside two other House GOP colleagues--Mike Meredith of Brownsville and C.B Embry of Morgantown.
DeCesare told WKU Public Radio he wasn't shocked by the new maps.
"I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I'm not,” said the Rockfield Republican. “It's kind of what they tried to do last year. Apparantly the House Democratic leadership is trying to eliminate three Republican members in one fail swoop."
Redistricting is often used as a tool by the majority party to protect their own, while modifying or eliminating districts friendly to the minority party. The new maps still have a long way to go before becoming law. They would have to pass the full House and Senate, and then be signed into law by Governor Beshear.
The House State Government committee has advanced a new redistricting map to the House floor after weeks of closed door debate.
Last year's state House and Senate districts were ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court after House GOP members challenged them in court. The new House districts would create seven new districts all across Kentucky, where no current lawmakers reside.
Those districts are:
House District 1 -- Fulton, Hickman Carlisle and Ballard counties, with parts of Graves County.
House District 19 -- Warren County/Bowling Green
District 36 -- East Louisville
District 49 -- Bullitt County
District 54 -- Anderson, Shelby and part of Bullitt county
District 88 -- Fayette County/Lexington
District 96 -- Powell, Estill and part of Madison county.
Despite a request from Gov. Steve Beshear to put off redistricting until later this year, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo is moving forward with getting proposals on the divisive issue.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Stumbo sent a letter to House members asking them to submit proposed boundaries for new legislative districts by Feb. 1.
Stumbo said after the proposals come in, lawmakers would decide whether to try to tackle redistricting during the 2013 General Assembly, which resumes on Feb. 5 and is set to end March 26. Rep. Tommy Thompson, a Democrat from Owensboro, told WKU Public Radio he hopes lawmakers take up redistricting this year instead of putting it off until 2014, when House and Senate elections will be held.
Gov. Steve Beshear is urging legislative leaders to delay General Assembly redistricting.
In a letter to House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers, the governor says he’d like them to hold off redistricting in the 2013 legislative session and instead take up other important issues, such as pension and tax reforms.
Beshear is opening the door to handling redistricting in a special session instead, because the issue tends to cause hard feelings after lawmakers see their districts changing.
“If we drop redistricting on top of all of that, it might well create such turmoil that we couldn’t get anything done,” Beshear says.
Lawmakers must still re-draw their own districts — after the Kentucky Supreme Court threw out maps drawn in 2012 — calling them unconstitutional. Redistricting of Congressional districts is already finished.
Legislative leaders are going to take another crack at approving payments to lawyers who fought to defend last year’s redistricting maps. The Legislative Research Commission hired the attorneys earlier this year to fend off challenges to new district maps.
A bill that would alter the section of the state Constitution dealing with redistricting is moving through the state legislature. The Senate took up the measure Thursday. The bill passed mostly on party lines in the Republican-controlled chamber, 27-11.
A change in the way lawmakers draw redistricting lines is likely to end up in front of voters this fall. Senate Bill 18 would give legislators more direction in how to split counties during redistricting, as well as require them to follow federal law. It would throw decades of past state precedent out the window.
A move to amend the provisions of Kentucky’s constitution that deal with redistricting has been introduced in the state Senate. State Senator Robert Stivers’s bill would change the laws around redistricting, and give more direction for how medium-sized counties could be split.
The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the legislative redistricting case this week. Chief Justice John D. Minton filed an order Friday officially accepting transfer of the case from the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
The Associated Press reports the Kentucky Court of Appeals has been asked to reinstate recently enacted legislative district lines after a judge found they don't meet Constitutional muster. The Legislative Research Commission today told the Appellate Court that Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd overstepped his authority in throwing out the new lines and ordering lawmakers to run in existing districts.