The Richmond Register

Local News

March 6, 2013

House approves redistricting plan

53-46 vote goes mostly along party lines

MADISON COUNTY —

FRANKFORT — It’s a uniquely political act to comply with a uniquely American constitutional requirement: redrawing legislative districts every 10 years to reflect population changes and ensure equal representation.

That doesn’t make it easy, as demonstrated Wednesday in the Kentucky House of Representatives, which voted along largely party lines – 53 to 46 – to approve a new plan that the minority Republicans declared unfair and based on manipulated census data.

That’s because Democrats didn’t count federal prisoners housed in Boyd, Clay, Fayette, Martin and McCreary counties – which is legal as Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, pointed out. But it’s not how those prisoners were counted last year when maps were drawn for congressional and judicial maps.

No Republican voted for the bill while one Democrat – Rep. Mike Denham of Maysville – voted against it because it removes Fleming County from his district and adds Lewis County.

After Stumbo said other states have drawn districts without counting federal prisoners, Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said they did so through legislation prior to actually drawing the new maps.

“They didn’t do it behind closed doors,” Hoover said on the House floor. “They didn’t do it with just two or three members of majority leadership making that decision.”

Hoover also said Democrats should be consistent in the way they counted federal prisoners – either count them in all the maps or none.

Republicans offered several amendments, some to make minor adjustments in the plan and one to substitute their own plan. All were defeated.

The House plan pairs 13 incumbents against others – 12 of those are Republicans. The other is Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, against Republican Jill York of Grayson. It creates seven new districts where no incumbent lives and it splits 24 counties, the minimum number allowed by prior court rulings.

The ideal district size is 43,308 and no district varies more than 5 percent from that amount, according to Stumbo, another court requirement.

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