House and Senate leadership divided over when resdistricting maps go into effect

11/06/2013 05:30 PM

The two leaders of the House and Senate are having trouble coming together to determine which constituents lawmakers will be representing in the next session.

It all comes back to the new state House and Senate district maps the General Assembly passed in August. While they cleared up the new boundaries for the 2014 elections and two Dec. 10 special elections, it’s apparently less clear how they affect incumbent lawmakers elected under the old maps in 2012.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said at Wednesday’s Legislative Research Commission meeting that he reads the legislation passed in August to say that maps go into effect only for races held after the passage of the maps.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, disagreed with Stumbo and he cited a 1982 attorney general’s opinion, which stated that the maps should immediately go into effect. That attorney general just so happens to be the current governor — Steve Beshear.

That could put into limbo constituents in some newly-created districts that wouldn’t have an incumbent — such as one in eastern Jefferson County or one that covers Rowan, Elliott and Lewis counties. Other House districts might have two representatives. That comes into play when citizens call in to voice their opinion to their lawmakers about pending legislation.

Stuck in the middle of the feud is the interim director of the LRC, Marcia Seilers, who has been on the job for 28 days.

After an hour-long deliberation among the legislative leaders who make up the commission, the Democrats in the group asked that just Stivers and Stumbo sit down with Seilers and work out their differences on which maps govern the sitting lawmakers before the 2014 General Assembly session begins.

Democrats also fear a quick vote will result in another lawsuit, which could challenge the validity of the maps. Rep. Sannie Overly, D-Paris, said that this is just a “year of flux” and that everything would be worked out by next year.

Eventually the matter was shelved until the next meeting. But after 45-minutes of arguing Sen. R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, had clearly had enough.

The group is expected to meet again next month.

Also at the meeting, two firms made their pitches to convince the Legislative Research Commission to hire them to recommend policy and payroll organization changes in the wake of the allegations of sexual harassment facing former Rep. John Arnold, who resigned in September.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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