Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 21, 2013

RONNIE ELLIS: Time to let a commission draw legislative maps

(Continued)

FRANKFORT —

The public will scream about the cost. Fewer, however, will howl about the injustice. The cost isn’t as offensive as deliberately subverting the public will by drawing as many “safe” districts as possible.

Before Greg Stumbo or Robert Stivers tell you the constitution gives the job to the legislature and the process is inherently political, understand 22 states use some form of commission to draw or recommend maps. You should also tell them they’ve clearly demonstrated they obviously aren’t up to the job or we wouldn’t be paying for a special session so they can try for a third time to do it correctly.

They’ll say the process is “inherently political” and there’s no way to remove the politics. But a commission would reduce the naked political self-interest and arrogant disregard for the idea voters should have a genuine choice about who represents them.

It shouldn’t be hard to create a relatively small commission including one of the state’s top demographers. Its first job would be to redraw districts after the 2020 U.S. Census. That way, no current legislator faces much risk. Many of them won’t be there in 2020 and any who is will have demonstrated sufficient political appeal he or she shouldn’t be afraid.

Instruct the commission to draw equal districts which are compact, contiguous, and represent geographic and community sensitivity and common sense. Allow the Kentucky Supreme Court to review it to ensure it meets federal and state constitutional guidelines.

The legislature can then vote it up or down but cannot amend it. If lawmakers vote it down, then let the Supreme Court draw their maps for them.

It’s time. It’s way past time.

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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