Lawmakers will try for a third time to redraw legislative district maps when they reconvene in special session on Aug. 19. This time they will count federal prisoners in all the maps, state Senate and House maps, state judicial maps and leave untouched the congressional map that was passed in 2012 and includes those prisoners. “I have today issued a proclamation calling the Kentucky General Assembly into special session on Aug. 19, 2013, to address legislative and judicial redistricting,” Beshear announced in a news release Thursday afternoon. Beshear, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo have been meeting trying to agree on a time for the special session. Earlier they said they had agreed all maps would be consistent in either counting or not counting federal prisoners. In 2012, both chambers passed a congressional map that counted federal prisoners (prior court rulings seem to allow states leeway on that question) as well as state legislative maps. But the courts threw out the state maps, saying they violated previous court rulings on splitting counties and varied too much in size, thus violating the one-man, one-vote requirement of the U.S. Supreme Court. This spring, during the 2013 General Assembly, the House passed a new plan Stumbo said meets the court guidelines in the 2012 rulings which abrogated the plans passed that year. But it did not count federal prisoners as it had done in 2012. Beshear’s call does not include redrawing the congressional maps, indicating the new maps will count federal prisoners. “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 in his written statement. “This will make all redistricting plans consistent and avoid having to address Congressional redistricting again. I have therefore not included Congressional redistricting on the agenda for the upcoming special session.” Special sessions, generally estimated to cost around $60,000 to $64,000 a day, are unpopular with voters and increasingly lawmakers prefer to avoid them. But in this case, there is pressure to act on redistricting quickly. This spring, the Senate chose not to act on the plan passed by the House nor did it offer one for its own districts, saying because there are no elections in 2013 there was time to redraw maps in the 2014 General Assembly that convenes in January. Two separate groups filed federal suits demanding the legislature act. One also asks the court to draw the maps if the legislature fails to act promptly. Those suits increased pressure on Beshear and lawmakers to act before the courts might act for them. On Monday, Beshear said he would issue the call for the special session sometime this week before a hearing on one of the federal suits that is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Lexington. “I am confident that both the House and Senate will have their plans drawn and any remaining issues resolved by Aug. 19 so the special session will last only five days and therefore minimize the expense to taxpayers,” Beshear said in Thursday’s news release. Five days is the minimum time it takes to pass a bill through both chambers. The question of whether to count federal prisoners is especially important for a couple of northeastern districts, the 99th represented by House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and the 100th represented by Rep. Kevin Sinnette, D-Ashland. Adkins wants to keep all of his native Elliott County, but he needs to include enough of neighboring Boyd County to take in his residence in Catlettsburg. By not counting federal prisoners, the 99th could extend to Catlettsburg without splitting either of the other two counties in the district, Elliott or Carter. Boyd is one of the 22 counties that exceed ideal district population size and must be split. The courts have ruled the district plans can split no more than 24 counties, the minimum necessary in the House. (It is mathematically impossible to draw 100 districts without splitting at least two counties in addition to the 22 that must be split because of population.) That forces Sinnette’s district to travel down about 20 miles of U.S. 23 to reach and include all of Lawrence County. The exclusion of the congressional maps may have taken some lawmakers by surprise. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, chairman of the House State Government Committee that typically handles redistricting, said Thursday morning he thought it likely lawmakers would look at re-drawing the congressional maps. Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, later said he’d heard that would also likely be before lawmakers in the special session. But Beshear left the congressional map off the call, and only the governor can set the agenda for a special session. Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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