Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

August 28, 2013

Plaintiffs OK with newly drawn district maps



Wiest said his clients will oppose any motion to dismiss the suits by Stumbo because they want to preserve the injunction against using the 2002 maps for any special elections.

He said there “have been some rumblings” as well that others might want to challenge the way the House maps splits Laurel County five ways, Hardin six, and other counties multiple ways and his clients might join any such action.

“But absent that, we’re probably done,” Wiest said.

Attempts to reach House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas – who has previously challenged earlier redistricting maps – weren’t successful either.

In 2012, the General Assembly passed new legislative maps favoring incumbents in the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate and punishing minority legislators in both chambers.

But both maps were subsequently declared unconstitutional by state courts. While the House passed a new map for its districts this past spring, the Senate declined to act upon it and didn’t offer one of its own.

Subsequently, the two federal lawsuits were filed and a Sept. 23 trial date was set by the federal panel. That prompted Gov. Steve Beshear to call a special session for last week to pass new, constitutionally appropriate maps.

Then on Friday before the session convened, the federal judges declared the previous maps based on the 2000 Census unconstitutional and prohibited their use in any future election.

But leadership of both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican Senate offered maps much less partisan and punitive to the minority than they had previously.

Stivers consulted with Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, and produced a map which pitted no incumbents against another or moved an incumbent out of his or her district.

Stumbo and Democrats offered a House map which Hoover called “a fairer plan” and “a step in the right direction.”  The plan paired four Democrats against Democratic incumbents and four Republicans against Republican incumbents. Previous Democratic plans paired as many as 11 Republicans.

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