FRANKFORT — House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Monday he would ask Gov. Steve Beshear to call an immediate special legislative session on redistricting if the Senate offered a valid plan.
Stumbo's comments were in response to a federal lawsuit filed April 26 by several Northern Kentucky officials and residents who want the court to force lawmakers to draw new legislative districts or allow a federal court to draw the boundaries.
"No one wants to preserve legislative independence more than I do," said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. "That's why the House passed a solid redistricting plan last session (this year) and urged the Senate to do the same.
"Sadly, continued inaction pushes us closer to the brink of federal intervention. I can't imagine why anyone would want federal judges to do our job."
Stumbo urged the Republican-led Senate to offer a "valid" redistricting plan.
"The House plan has been public for months, and it is time to wrap this up," Stumbo said. "The Senate knows I stand ready to act."
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said in an email late Monday that he had filed his initial response to the lawsuit in Covington. But court records show that on Monday Stivers asked for more time — until June 10 — to respond.
"The Senate intends to move forward with a fair and measured process to avoid the risk and expense of further litigation in other courts, both state and federal," Stivers said in a statement. "I look forward to the resolution of the constitutional law issues necessary to conclude redistricting."
Stumbo included in his response a proposed redistricting map for the Senate.
"I directed my staff to share this plan with the Senate last week to show that a sound map can be drawn using our population data," Stumbo said. "The interesting thing is that this map pairs no incumbents in the Senate. If the old population data is used, four incumbents, including two Republicans, have to run against each other, so I can't imagine why we do not already have agreement on what numbers to use."
Stumbo acknowledged the right of each chamber to draw its own map.
"We just want to show that it can be done, not that our map is the only one," he said.
Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a second lawsuit against the state over the legislature's failure to pass a constitutional legislative redistricting plan based on the 2010 U.S. census.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Frankfort, seeks to block the state board of elections and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes from using current districts in any upcoming election. A special election to fill the seat of former state Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, is set for June 25.
The General Assembly passed a legislative redistricting plan last year, but the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional.