Posts Tagged ‘House Redistricting’

Redistricting Efforts Assailed as a “perversion of democracy”

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Embittered by partisan politics over redistricting, some House members from both sides of the aisle worry that the map wrangling will further erode public confidence in lawmakers and the legislative process.

Reshaping legislative and congressional boundaries has dominated the Capitol discourse since the session began eleven days ago. Lawmakers have been working to firm up new lines for state House, Senate, congressional, and judicial districts in time to meet the January 31st candidate filing deadline. There will be election contests this year for U.S. House of Representatives, state House, and the odd-numbered state Senate seats.

Last week, the state House approved a house plan that pits several Republican incumbents against each other and in one case against a powerful Democratic leader. This week, the Republican-controlled Senate redrew its boundaries and put incumbent Democrats in head-to-head election competitions.

A new summit in the redistricting outrage was reached when the Senate approved its plan that ousts Lexington Democrat Kathy Stein from her District 13 seat by year’s end by redrawing that district’s boundaries to encompass counties in northeast Kentucky.

On the House floor today,  Rep. Kelly Flood of Lexington says she is grief-stricken over the remapping maneuver and characterized it as a “perversion of democracy.” Stein served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for 11 years before taking the Senate seat left vacant by a retiring Democrat in 2009.

Flood contends that the plan raises several constitutional conflicts that could result in costly litigation “because a majority of Lexingtonians would be disenfranchised until the even-numbered Senate elections of 2014.”

Under the new Senate map, a large portion of Lexington would fall under the fourth Senate district currently represented by Sen.  Dorsey Ridley, a western Kentucky Democrat. Flood blasted the change as “fundamentally a perversion of democracy to suggest that the people of Lexington will not be able to vote and select their own state senator.”

Republican House floor leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown, commented on the pain of political paybacks. He offered some flippant coping advice: “Welcome to our world. You denounce the Senate plan, no different really than what the House did last Thursday.”

He urged the body to reject the final package of redistricting bills that included the redrawn House, Senate, and judicial maps to send a message to voters that lawmakers won’t stand for political trickery and gamesmanship to constituents’ detriment.

Pleas to cast a protest vote and take another stab at the remapping didn’t prove persuasive enough to change the expected outcome. On a vote of 58 to 39 the redistricting maps of state House, Senate, and judicial lines cleared the House, and the measures were sent to the governor’s desk.

Louisville Democrat Jim Wayne says he will request the Legislative Research Commission to review how other states deal with redistricting.  Meanwhile, key lawmakers from both chambers and both parties are hashing out their differences on congressional boundaries.

You can see today’s House floor remarks about redistricting tonight on Legislative Update at 11pm ET on KET.

House Redistricting Skirmish Reaffirms GOP Resolve

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Partisan bickering erupted during the House State Government committee this morning over redrawing state House boundaries. House Speaker Greg Stumbo is the chief architect of the redistricting plan (House Bill 1), which calls for a total of 28 counties to be split, 22 because of population growth and an additional 6 smaller counties—the same number as the current map passed in 2002, explained Stumbo. Those smaller counties are Harlan, Letcher, Lawrence, Lewis, Mercer, and Trigg.

Stumbo testified that, abiding by previous court decisions, the plan maintains the majority minority districts as required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and keeps districts within a recommended five percent deviation, which amounts to about 43,000 people for each of the House districts.

There are nine incumbents who’ll be pitted against each other in this year’s election as a result of the remapping proposed by Stumbo. They are mostly Republicans facing against each other, and one Democrat—floor leader Rocky Adkins matched against a GOP incumbent.

Representative Danny Ford, the House Minority Whip, wedged a counter argument to Stumbo’s proposal. The Rockcastle County Republican later tried to force a vote on an alternative plan he had devised, but it was blocked by Chairman Mike Cherry, who ruled it out of order on grounds it didn’t comply with his 24-hour amendment submission rule.

Representative Lonnie Napier, who currently represents Madison County, would no longer, under Stumbo’s plan. Napier said constituent complaints about the move should have been considered. And he also came to the defense of an eastern Kentucky colleague when he asked if there was an airport in McKee: “We’ll have to contact the Department of Transportation to see if we can put an airport there because Marie Rader will never be able to get from McKee to the Tennessee border with her district. So I don’t know how in the world she’s going to represent those people.”

Representative Ford voicedhis dismay with the bill—even though he was content with his own district makeup—and the process during the vote.

“I think one of the things we see today is an erosion of our faith in government, and I think that a lot of that is because of abuse of power.”

He chided Democrats for rushing a vote on the House Democrats’ plan and refusals to consider other plans.

“If we’re going to be an independent body, we need to act as independent body, and we need to keep our constituency in mind.”

The measure passed the committee 20-5 with “no” votes coming from Republicans Danny Ford, Brad Montell, Lonnie Napier, Tommy Turner, and Alecia Webb-Edgington. A vote by the full House is expected tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon, the state House along a mostly party line vote of 54 to 42 passed the congressional redistricting measure embodied in House Bill 2. It now advances to the Senate where revisions are certain. You can watch that action from last night’s show.

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