Senate approves its congressional map and new state Senate lines as Democrats fume

01/18/2012 05:35 PM

The Republican-led Senate on Wednesday approved its version of the congressional district lines, setting up negotiations with Democratic House leaders over how to rectify the two different approaches to those six districts.

The legislation, House Bill 2, passed 21-15.

The upper chamber also approved the new 38 state Senate districts that essentially drew at least three Democrats out of jobs, including Sen. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington.

It passed the Senate, 21-14 with Democratic Sen. Joey Pendleton of Hopkinsville joining the Republicans in supporting the map.

The map placed together Democratic Sens. Dorsey Ridley of Henderson who represents the 4th Senate District and Jerry Rhoads of Madisonville who represents the 6th District. That new 6th District includes Henderson, Hopkins, Webster and McLean counties.

That allowed senators to re-number Stein’s 13th District to be the 4th. And the 13th District became a northeastern Kentucky district of Harrison, Robertson, Mason, Lewis, Nicholas, Fleming, Bath and Montgomery counties.

Because odd-numbered districts are up for re-election this year, Stein would have to move to that district to run for another term. She said Wednesday she didn’t plan to move.

Stein, one of the most outspoken senators, frequently clashed with Republican Senate President David Williams. And she said she was “broadsided” by the move.

Sen. Damon Thayer, the Georgetown Republican who chairs the state government committee, was the chief architect of the map.

He told reporters the districts weren’t drawn to punish any particular senators.

Sen. Walter Blevins, a Democrat from Sandy Hook, also saw the 27th District he currently represents split into parts of four others. The district number moved to southern Kentucky where it incorporates Muhlenberg, Allen, Simpson, Logan and Todd counties and a small part of Warren County.

Thayer said that district wasn’t drawn to help out Warren County state Representative Jim DeCesare, whom House Democrats placed in a new House district with two other incumbent Republicans.

Congressional map passes with fewer fireworks

The Senate, meanwhile, approved a congressional district map very similar to current makeup. The measure passed along party lines with little debate.

It adds constituents to the currently under-populated 5th congressional district by moving in Estill, Powell and half of Montgomery counties from the 6th District and the rest of Bath County from the 4th District. The 5th District is currently represented by Republican Congressman Hal Rogers of Somerset.

The other district in need of more people was the 1st District in the west, which is represented by Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville.

The 1st would add the rest of Ohio County plus Taylor County.

That’s quite different from the House Democrats’ approach. For instance, that version moved Ashland and much of northeastern Kentucky from the 4th to the 5th Districts, allowing the 4th district to dip down into Shelby, Spencer and Nelson counties.

And that map moved Owensboro from the 2nd to the 1st District while allowing the 2nd District to sweep southeast as far as Pulaski County.


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