House Democrats tell Beshear they're prepared for redistricting session, Republican Senators 'stand ready'

04/30/2013 04:25 PM

House Democrats and Senate Republicans said publicly Tuesday that they’re “ready” for a special session on redistricting after Gov. Steve Beshear told Pure Politics he wants them to deal with it before the end of the year.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo sent Beshear a letter Tuesday calling for a “quick resolution” on new House and Senate maps in light of a federal lawsuit filed in Northern Kentucky on Friday. The suit, first reported by Scott Wartman of the Northern Kentucky Enquirer , claims that residents of the region are being under-represented in Frankfort because it has grown in population over the last decade relative to other regions.

“Having reviewed the federal lawsuit filed on Friday regarding redistricting, I am writing to say that the House stands ready to act, should you decide to call a special session,” Stumbo told Beshear in the letter. “I believe this is an issue better resolved sooner than later. We need to avoid costly litigation that, no matter how it is decided, will end with the same result: new legislative districts for the House and Senate. Given that, it is vital that the General Assembly maintain its constitutional authority to pass a redistricting plan.”

Stumbo, Beshear and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers all agreed that the legislature must agree on the maps in principle before Beshear calls a special session.

Stumbo’s letter did include some finger-pointing at the Republican-led Senate because the Senate didn’t take up redistricting during this spring’s session.

The House passed a map on the 25th day of the 30-day legislative session last month. The map, would have pitted incumbent Republicans against each other in five districts.

But Senate leaders and Republicans expressed concern that the House map didn’t count federal prisoners, unlike the new congressional district map the General Assembly approved in 2012.

Stivers, in a statement to the press, defended the Senate leaders’ decision not to take up redistricting in the waning days of the regular session and said the upper chamber will be “ready to do our duty” when the governor calls a session.

Here’s Stivers’ full statement:

“The facts of the matter are that the House sent the Senate a redistricting plan so late in the session that they would have forced us to change the schedule by adding days and costs to the tax-payer. Furthermore, it was mathematically impossible for the Senate, using the House’s flawed numbers, to adhere to the court ruling that limited the number of split counties to four. It is a shame, but not unexpected given their past actions, that the House now chooses to rewrite history by continuing their games of gotcha politics. The Senate will not be so vindictive. We stand ready to do our duty upon the call of the governor.”

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