Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 21, 2013

Gov. Beshear calls session to draw district maps

Legislature will meet Aug. 19 for third attempt

FRANKFORT —

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 rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at 
www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort. 

 




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