Politics & Government

Lawmakers hope to release redistricting plans before special session

FRANKFORT — The state Senate hopes to publicly release its plan to redraw legislative boundaries before a special legislative session on the controversial issue begins Aug. 19, Senate President Robert Stivers said Wednesday.

"We hope to have it ready in time for our members to know and for the public to get a hold of it," said Stivers, R-Manchester.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Greg Stumbo pledged that his chamber will release its proposed legislative and Supreme Court district boundaries before the special session begins.

Stivers and Stumbo were asked about preparations for the special session Wednesday after a regular meeting of legislative leaders. Redistricting plans typically are not revealed by the House and Senate until they are ready to be voted on in the legislature.

Gov. Steve Beshear last week announced that state lawmakers will meet in special session on Aug. 19 to redraw legislative and judicial district boundaries.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the House is working on two versions of its plan. One is the map the House passed in this year's session that did not count federal prisoners in the state in its population counts.

If that plan is adopted, there would be only minor changes in some precinct boundaries, Stumbo said.

The House also has a map that counts federal prisoners, Stumbo said.

Stivers said whether about 8,500 federal prisoners will be counted depends in large part "upon information we get from the courts."

He was referring to a lawsuit filed by Northern Kentucky officials and residents who say they are disadvantaged by the legislature's inaction on redistricting.

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.

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

Both Stivers and Stumbo said the upcoming special session will last no more than five days — the minimal amount of time to get a bill through both chambers. The session will cost taxpayers more than $60,000 a day.

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