Senate panel approves two proposed changes to state Constitution

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 14, 2012 

FRANKFORT — A Senate committee approved two bills Wednesday that would change what the Kentucky Constitution says about the thorny issues of redistricting and administrative regulations.

On a 9-0 vote, the State and Local Government Committee signed off on Senate Bill 18, which would set new standards for the legislature as it redraws political district boundaries every 10 years. The legislative redistricting plan approved by this year's General Assembly was declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.

The measure, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, also would require the General Assembly to remain in session without pay if it fails to complete redistricting by April 15, the mandatory deadline to end a session in even-numbered years.

Stivers acknowledged that it might be difficult to get voters excited about changing the Constitution on "such an inside-baseball issue."

Constitutional amendments require approval by the House and the Senate and by voters in statewide polls.

The committee also approved SB 10, which would amend the Constitution to give the General Assembly more authority over administrative regulations initiated by the executive branch.

It would specify that an administrative regulation disapproved by lawmakers would be void and unenforceable and could not be reissued in the same or similar language for at least a year.

Some legislators complain that they have no power over administrative regulations when the General Assembly is not in session.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro, sparked a committee debate on the constitutional issue of separation of powers. It was approved 6-3.

There already is one constitutional amendment on the ballot in November. It would protect the right of residents to hunt and fish in the state.

There can be as many as four amendments on a ballot.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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