Politics & Government

Stumbo says redrawing of state legislative districts might wait a year

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg

FRANKFORT — House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Friday that the redrawing of state legislative district boundaries might not be completed this year.

"As far as the House and Senate districts are concerned, it would be my opinion, not a suggestion, that yes, it could wait until 2013 from a legal perspective," said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

He said the redrawing of the state's six congressional districts must be done this year.

Stumbo's comments to reporters came as rank-and-file House members learned more about leadership's plans to redraw their district boundaries.

Several were upset about plans to put them in districts with other incumbent lawmakers or to carve up their districts.

"There's going to be people who are unhappy. There always is," Stumbo said. "It's difficult on them, personally, because our districts are much smaller (than the Senate's). You have more feeling, more interaction with people on the precinct level."

The House State Government Committee had planned to take up Monday the House leadership's plan to redraw state House districts, but chairman Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, announced on the floor that his panel will not meet Monday.

Stumbo said leadership is still asking members "to bring us plans."

He said the U.S. Census Bureau documentation suggests that "the drop dead date" to finalize House and Senate redistricting would be 2013.

"But I am hopeful that we can accomplish it this session," he said.

Stumbo said there has been a precedent for postponing the redrawing of state House and Senate lines. He said his first redistricting session for the 1980 U.S. Census was in 1983. Redistricting is done every 10 years to reflect population changes in the U.S. Census.

The House is expected to vote on its congressional redistricting plan next week.

That plan was approved by a committee Thursday and immediately sparked concern by Republicans that it was trying to make some districts more Democratic, especially the 5th in Eastern Kentucky, by moving Boyd and other northeastern counties out of the 4th.

The House changes in the 5th would probably not hurt popular Republican incumbent Hal Rogers of Somerset, who has served in the U.S. House since 1981. But the proposal could make the district more competitive for Democrats after Rogers, who turned 74 on Dec. 31, leaves Congress.

The state Senate has not yet made public its plans to redraw legislative and congressional districts. Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Friday it will be "sometime next week."