Thu August 15, 2013
Kentucky Senate Republican Leaders Unveil Redistricting Map
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers today revealed a new redistricting map that would split only three counties and create no new open seats.
In a press conference, Stivers said the map, which was crafted by Republican leadership in the Senate, represents “a process of mathematics and criteria, not politics,” according to spokeswoman Lourdes Baez, who added that Senate Democrats were also consulted on the plan.
The map was introduced in advance of a five-day special session of the General Assembly, which is slated to begin next week. The session, called by Gov. Steve Beshear earlier this summer, will be the latest attempt by lawmakers to craft new state electoral maps based on population data from the most recent federal census.
Stivers said that the Senate leadership's goal "was to achieve real dialogue to determine problems & realize real solutions for all Kentuckians."
The Senate proposal would split Jefferson, Fayette and Kenton Counties, and would not put any incumbents within the same district.
Last week, Stivers’ Republican colleagues in the House unveiled a map of their own. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover presented a new redistricting plan that he has called “a fair plan for Kentucky."
Hoover’s map—which would have placed four Democrats and four Republicans in shared districts and split only two voting precincts—immediately attracted criticism from Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
Stumbo dismissed the House GOP map as “a political ploy” and said it would have no chance of passing the chamber. Hoover fired back in a statement released last Friday in which he chided the speaker’s comments, calling them “partisan business as usual.”
In a statement released today, Hoover said that the new senate plan “proves, just like the proposal we released last week, that the job of redistricting can be done in a way that is fair and equitable to Democrats and Republicans, and to current members of both chambers.”
So far, Democrats in both the House and Senate have yet to put forth new maps. A spokesman for Stumbo says his party is currently working to modify a map passed by the house during the 2013 regular session.
State and federal congressional electoral districts are required to be redrawn in accordance with population changes based on population data collected every 10 years by the U.S. Census Bureau. That data suggests strong growth in and around Lexington, Louisville and parts of Northern Kentucky, with drops in population across Southeastern Kentucky that is reflected in the new senate proposal.
In 2012, the Kentucky Supreme Court blocked a redistricting plan signed into law by Gov. Beshear on the grounds that it violated Section 33 of the Kentucky Constitution by failing to keep certain districts within five percentage points larger or smaller than their ideal size, based on population changes. That plan also attracted ire for sacrificing accuracy in lieu of shielding incumbents within creatively drawn districts. As a result, the state’s highest court enforced district boundaries that were last drawn in 2002, which in turn attracted a pair of lawsuits filed this year against state government officials that challenged the legality of holding future elections on an outdated district map.
In preparation for the special legislative session, Kentucky House Democratic leaders will publicly unveil their proposed redistricting map for the House of Representatives at 1 p.m. Friday in the House chamber.
The special session will begin Monday, August 19, and is expected to last no more than five days at a taxpayer cost of approximately $60,000 per day.