FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A legislative redistricting bill cleared a House committee on Tuesday and is speeding toward a vote on the floor and in the full Senate by Friday.
The House State Government Committee approved the measure 25-4, keeping it on the fast track to a Wednesday full House vote, even though an emergency clause would rush it into law as soon as Gov. Steve Beshear signs on.
"I think there's sufficient support to pass the bill with an emergency clause," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. "And I think there's no good reason not to do it."
Lawmakers are working fast to complete redistricting because a three-judge panel is closely watching their efforts and is poised to step in if lawmakers fail to resolve the matter.
Redistricting is undertaken every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate. The overall population rose from 4 million to 4.3 million. But that growth tended to be in urban areas, while rural communities declined.
Unlike recent efforts to deal with the divisive issue, both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House drafted proposals with which all sides seemed generally happy.
The House proposal given by Stumbo last week would redraw legislative boundaries in a way that would put four Democrats and four Republicans in the same districts. The Senate proposal, also released last week, would pit no incumbents against each other.
The latest proposals out of the House and Senate are stark contrasts to the measures passed last year only to be struck down as unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court. The plan adopted by the House last year would have essentially forced some Republicans out of the Legislature. The Senate's plan would have done the same to Democrats.
The Kentucky high court found 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, Beshear called them back for the special session.
In the latest House proposal, Republican Reps. Myron Dossett of Pembroke and Ben Waide of Madisonville would share District 9, setting up a potential primary election battle. Republican Reps. C.B. Embry and Jim DeCesare would both be in District 17.
In northeastern Kentucky, Democratic Rep. Kevin Sinnette would potentially be pitted against powerful Democratic House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins in District 100. And two veteran Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Hubert Collins of Wittensville and John Will Stacy of West Liberty, would share District 97.
However, Adkins said Monday he's seriously considering moving back to either Elliott County, where he was raised, or Rowan County, where he attended college, to run in a newly formed district under the House plan. That would avoid a potential contest against his fellow Democratic incumbent.
Adkins, who now lives in Boyd County, said his current district would be split into three others under the plan. His current district includes Elliott and Lawrence counties and parts of Boyd and Rowan counties. The new open district would include Elliott, Rowan and Lewis counties, he said.