House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he "probably" will rule out of order a floor amendment on casino gambling for not being germane to the Senate bill proposing a constitutional amendment on legislative redistricting. Since the House almost never votes to overturn a speaker's ruling, that virtually assures Rep. David Osborne, R-Prospect, will not get the floor vote on the casino issue this legislative session.
In a way, that's unfortunate because Osborne's amendment would have gutted Senate Bill 18, a particularly odious and self-serving attempt to lend some constitutional legitimacy to House and Senate leaders' worst gerrymandering instincts.
Osborne's proposal would transform SB 18 into a constitutional amendment on casinos, which would at least have the value of giving 80 percent of Kentuckians who want to vote on this issue the chance to do so.
As written now, the main values the bill pays tribute to are the values of partisan chicanery and personal vindictiveness on display in the legislative redistricting plan lawmakers passed early in this General Assembly session, only to have state courts rule it unconstitutional.
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To its credit, SB 18 would give the legislature needed flexibility in splitting counties during the redistricting process. If it stopped there, the proposed amendment would be worthy. The restrictions on splitting counties in our 1890s state constitution represent unnecessary impediments to the redistricting process in the 21st century.
But SB 18 also would bestow a constitutional blessing on pairing non-contiguous counties in a single district by virtue of a thin strip of connecting land running through an intermediate county or counties, as House Democrats did with a couple of Republican districts in the plan tossed by the courts.
Carried to its extreme, the language of SB 18 would even allow the use of right-of-way along various interstates, parkways and other roads to put an Eastern Kentucky county and a Western Kentucky county in the same district.
Changing district numbers to make it impossible for an incumbent senator to seek election in any district for at least two years, as Senate Republicans did to Democratic Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington, would also receive a constitutional seal of approval under SB 18.
Instead of ruling Osborne's amendment out of order, it would be better for Stumbo and the House to avoid that whole discussion by allowing the revolting SB 18 to just die. If it is allowed to clear the House and appear on the ballot this fall, Kentucky voters need to soundly trounce this insult to the idea of representative democracy.