Senate redistricting proposal pairs no incumbents

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Associated Press

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 11:02 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republican Senate President Robert Stivers unveiled a legislative redistricting plan Thursday for members of his chamber that wouldn't require incumbents to run against each other in upcoming elections.

The proposal is a stark contrast to a divisive measure passed by the Senate last year only to be struck down as unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

"We don't want to get into the situation where this is challengeable in court," Stivers told reporters at a press conference in Frankfort where he released the latest proposal.

Stivers said the latest plan is both fair and constitutional, and he said he expects overwhelming support for the proposal when it's voted on during a special legislative session next week.

Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate.

The Kentucky high court struck down lawmakers' initial redistricting plan last year, finding that the proposed districts weren't balanced by population and didn't comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate. When lawmakers didn't rework and pass a plan earlier this year, Gov. Steve Beshear called them back for the special session slated to begin Monday.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo is expected to release a redistricting proposal for members of his chamber on Friday. The last one Stumbo proposed would have pitted 11 House Republicans against each other.

"Both Sen. Stivers and I committed to the governor that we would have our maps ready to go when the special session started, and, with the proposed House map coming tomorrow, I never had a doubt that this would happen," Stumbo said. "I anticipate each chamber will pass the other's map and the session will not last more than five days. We're on target to meet that commitment."

Because the issue had remained unresolved, two lawsuits were filed by Kentucky voters asking that federal judges redraw legislative boundaries. They claimed population growth in their communities has left them without adequate representation in Frankfort.

Three federal judges assigned to the case are closely watching the Legislature's efforts and are poised to step in if lawmakers fail to resolve the matter this time around.

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