Kentucky's congressional district boundaries still up in the air

Talks on hold as filing deadline nears

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comJanuary 25, 2012 

FRANKFORT — As Tuesday's filing deadline nears, House and Senate leaders have not brokered an agreement on a map that would redraw the state's six congressional districts.

It appears that congressional redistricting and House and Senate redistricting might end up in the courts.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Tuesday that the House still was waiting for a counterproposal from the Senate and that he was getting concerned an agreement might not be reached by the Jan. 31 deadline.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said there were no negotiations Tuesday and no plans to start negotiations again. Thayer is chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and a point person on the negotiations between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.

Meanwhile, House Republicans said Tuesday that they plan to file a lawsuit before Tuesday to challenge the legality of the state House redistricting plan, which was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday.

House Republicans balked at House Democrats' plan, which moved Rep. Jill York, a Republican from Grayson, into a newly created Fayette County district. The plan also would pit three Republican incumbents against one another in one Western Kentucky district.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said House Republicans plan not only to challenge the legality of the redrawn districts but will ask for an injunction that would suspend the Jan. 31 filing deadline for House and Senate seats.

Stumbo said earlier this week that he did not think a legal challenge had any merit.

Also on Tuesday, another Republican filed legislation that would change the way the legislature redraws legislative districts. Rep. Tim Moore of Elizabethtown filed a bill that would create a 12-person advisory reapportionment and redistricting commission.

The commission would be appointed by the leadership of each chamber. Three members would be appointed by the speaker of the House, three members by the House minority leader, three members by the president of the Senate, and three members by the Senate minority leader.

In the Senate, Democratic Sen. Kathy Stein's legislative district was moved from Fayette County to northeastern Kentucky. Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson, now represents Fayette County for the remaining two years of his term.

"The goal is to try to depoliticize this process," said Moore. Although the state Constitution gives the legislature the authority to redraw districts, "it has not met its responsibility to do it in a fair and equitable manner."

Moore's bill came one day after Rep. Bill Farmer, R-Lexington, filed a measure that would give the state's seven Supreme Court justices the ability to appoint one person from their respective districts to serve on a third-party commission to redraw legislative lines.

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