Northern Ky. Republicans try to force redistricting in court while lawmakers divided over need for special session

04/29/2013 11:24 AM

A group of Northern Kentuckian Republicans filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday to force lawmakers to redraw legislative maps by November, arguing that Northern Kentuckians are underrepresented in the General Assembly.

Scott Wartman of the Northern Kentucky Enquirer first reported the lawsuit filed at the federal court in Covington.

The group is pushing the courts to order the legislature to even out the over populated districts before the 2014 General Assembly, but representatives also told Wartman they also wanted to give potential candidates plenty of time to decide which district they will run in. The Kentucky constitution requires House candidates to live in the district in which they’re running for at least a year before the election.

The 2012 redistricting maps were tossed out after the Kentucky Supereme Court found the plan unconstitutional.

At the time the Supreme Court ordered the 2012 House and Senate elections to take place under the 2002 map even though the old maps violate equal representation because the populations have grown unevenly over the last decade. The 60th House District represented by Republican Rep. Sal Santoro of Florence is more than 50 percent over the ideal district size of about 43,000 constituents.

The courts then told legislators to make sure and pass redistricting plans before the filing deadline for the 2014 election cycle in late January. However, the General Assembly could opt to push the filing deadline back if the redistricting maps are still not in place.

Legislative leaders split on special session

House leaders, who passed a redistricting plan in the 2013 legislative session would like to see the governor call a five-day special session to pass a redistricting plan before the 60-day session begins in January.

“If we could basically go in and get out in five days, I would prefer we do it before the regular session myself, I would. So members know where they’re going to be running. They know exactly what their districts look like,” said Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook and the House Democratic floor leader. “I really think it would be much better organized to do it in a special session.”

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, issued a statement Friday night that put the heat of the lawsuit on Senate leaders, saying the House had done its job by passing a redistricting map for its 100 districts in the 2013 regular session.

“We passed a plan that complies with both state and federal law, but the Senate refused to do the same, even though we urged that chamber to act throughout the session. Barring something unforeseen, our plan is the one we will adopt, whether in a special session or in 2014. Obviously, the House believes this issue is something that needs to be done.” Stumbo said in a statement.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, told Pure Politics he hoped the General Assembly could avoid a special session and that redistricting could be dealt with during the first days of the 2014 regular session.

“I feel it could be something that in the next, this is, let’s get thought the Derby and start having discussions. I know this is a big tool for the state to promote itself, both from a tourism aspect and a recruitment aspect of industry, so I think after that and people have an opportunity to recover from the session and celebrate the Derby we’ll sit down and start making the plans for the fall and next year,” Stivers told Pure Politics last week.


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