Politics & Government

Beshear calls legislature into special session Aug. 19 for redistricting

Gov. Steve Beshear spoke during a hearing of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012.  Photo by David Perry | Staff
Gov. Steve Beshear spoke during a hearing of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. Photo by David Perry | Staff HERALD-LEADER

FRANKFORT — State legislators will return to Frankfort in August to redraw state House and Senate districts and state Supreme Court boundaries.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday that he will ask the General Assembly to return on Aug. 19 to redraw legislative and judicial district boundaries. Beshear's announcement comes one day before House and Senate leaders are to appear in federal court in Lexington in a case filed by Northern Kentucky officials and residents who say they are disadvantaged by the legislature's inaction on redistricting.

The legislature will not redraw the six congressional district lines that were set by the legislature in 2012.

"Leaders in both chambers have indicated to me a willingness to utilize the same census numbers for legislative and judicial redistricting as were used for Congressional redistricting in 2012," Beshear said.

The House and Senate passed new boundaries for congressional districts and state legislative districts in 2012, but the maps for legislative districts were ruled unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

A key point of contention between House Democrats and Senate Republicans has been whether to include federal prisoners in their population counts. The House pushed a plan in 2013 that did not include federal prisoners but the 2012 congressional plan did.

Beshear said that House Democrats and Senate Republicans have agreed to be consistent — that means they will count federal prisoners in the new maps and will not have to redraw the six congressional districts.

"The Senate is prepared to pass a fair redistricting plan," said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. "The prospective date will allow us to complete our work within five days."

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said: "We as legislative leaders need to have an agreement to stay within the deviation range of plus or minus 5 percent within our state legislative maps and that we will split the minimum number of counties in order to abide by the mandates of the state Supreme Court."

Lawmakers are required to set new boundaries once each decade to account for shifting populations.

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