Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Editorials

June 22, 2013

It's their job

Few state legislators support commission on redistricting

ASHLAND — While we have never seen the results of any polls on the issue, we have little doubt that a clear majority of registered voters in Kentucky would support Common Cause Kentucky’s call for the creation of an independent, nonpartisan commission to redraw the boundaries of the state’s six congressional districts and of the 38 districts in the Kentucky Senate and the 100 districts in the Kentucky House of Representatives soon after the completion of the U.S. census each decade.

But among members of the Kentucky General Assembly support for the creation of an independent redistricting commission is weak. In fact, the leaders of the General Assembly in both parties see nothing wrong with the way redistricting now is done. In fact, they view redistricting as an opportunity to reconfigure congressional and legislative districts to benefit their party.

That’s why the chances of state legislators approving the creation of an independent commission to redraw the boundaries of the legislative districts are nil. Gov. Steve Beshear has called the Kentucky General Assembly to convene in special session on Aug. 19 to again try to approve plan that will withstand a court challenge, something they failed to do in 2012.

And while the exact boundaries of the new districts have yet to be determined, we know now what they will entail. The Republicans majority in the Kentucky Senate will determine the boundaries of the 38 Senate districts, while the Democrat majority in the state House of Representatives will determine the boundaries of the 100 House districts. In addition to creating districts that are within 5 percent of having equal population, the new district plans also will be drawn in hopes of increasing the Republican majority in the Senate and the Democrat majority in the House. That’s just the way politics is played in Frankfort, and always has been. It’s not likely to change.

Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause Kentucky, an independent government watchdog group, said he believes lawmakers have grown tired of the bickering over redistricting and may finally be ready to consider creating a commission, an idea being used in several other states but that has never gotten enough support to pass in Kentucky.

“Republicans and Democrats are fighting and the public interest is hurt by this,” Beliles said. “Good government is always held up by this darn stuff. What we need is a commission of nonpartisan geographers to draw these lines.”

Beliles is right that the political battle over redistricting can hamper government. When the 2012 General Assembly approved a new redistricting plan for the state legislature, the new district boundaries were so blatantly drawn to benefit the Republican majority in the Senate and the Democrat majority in the House, those in the minority were so angered by the redistricting plan that it impacted the rest of the 2012 General Assembly.

In a perfect world, redistricting would be a rather simple process that would change existing district boundaries as little as possible in order to make the population of each district within 5 percent of being identical, but this is not a perfect world, and one of the goals of each redistricting plan is to benefit the majority party.

In 2012, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the redistricting plans approved for the House and Senate failed to meet population guidelines and voided those plans. Legislators will try again during the August special session. Beshear said he wants the redistricting plan in place before the end of the year so redistricting does not affect legislative business like it did in 2012. 

“Redistricting is inherently political, and there’s no such a thing as a nonpartisan or bipartisan commission that can do that independently of influence,” said Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown. “People who believe that will be disappointed. So it’s important that it remain with the General Assembly. It’s our constitutional responsibility and we should not shirk it.”

We have little doubt that legislators will not “shirk” their responsibilities by letting an independent body redraw district lines. However, redistricting should be based more on population changes and not politics. Can legislators put the needs of the people first and create new district boundaries where neighbors with common interest live? Frankly, at this point we’re doubtful. Legislators have toyed with redistricting for almost two years. In August they have what may be their last chance to do it right.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • 0518greene.jpeg Greene-Lounsberry

    John and Eva Greene of Greenup are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter, Stacey Nicole Greene, to Jonathan Wesley Lounsberry.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Business grant

    Morehead State graduate student Kayla Keeton, who received her undergraduate degree from MSU last spring and is now studying for her MBA at the school, has received a $5,111 grant from the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to help her start Belles of the Bluegrass, a high-tech wedding planning business.

    May 16, 2014

  • Recovery Fest celebrates kicking addiction

    The wet weather no doubt impacted the size of the crowd at Saturday’s Recovery Fest 2014 at Veterans Riverfront Park in Ashland, but there were plenty of reasons for addicts who are now drug free to celebrate and for speakers like State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, and others to talk about the impact the prescription drug epidemic has had on this region and for others to distribute literature and offer words of encouragement that could convince some to seek help in their battle with their drug addictions.

    May 13, 2014

  • McGinnis great choice for ACTC keynote speaker

    Dr. Dwayne McGinnis will be the keynote speaker at Friday night’s Ashland Community and Technical College’s graduation ceremonies, and we can’t think of a better person to inspire graduates to go beyond the degrees they will earn from ACTC. After all, that is exactly what McGinnis did.

    May 5, 2014

  • Aiding classmates

    May 5, 2014