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August 26, 2013

Redistricting plan zips through House

(Continued)

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —

When the judges last week declared the previous maps unconstitutional, it also prohibited their use in any future election, prompting Stumbo’s motion to amend it to allow any special elections for vacancies which occur between now and 2014 to be conducted under the old maps. But the judges Wednesday denied that motion.

Assuming the new maps pass by Friday, the legislature’s most likely course of action would be to petition the federal court to accept them as constitutional which presumably would end the law suits. But if the judges deny that motion, lawmakers may find themselves defending the new plan before the judges in September.

Speeches by Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, who has filed previous suits challenging redistricting plans, both complained the plan adopted Wednesday “packs” Republican districts by putting the greatest number of residents in those districts possible while remaining below the court-ordered maximum 5 percent deviation above the ideal district population size.

Hoover said the plan paints “an almost identical scenario of a redistricting plan that was struck down in the state of Georgia.” Hoover said he’s not likely to challenge the plan in court, but “I think someone else will probably pursue this.”

Fischer also cited the 2004 Georgia case in which a Democratic legislature lumped 38 Republican incumbents in the same districts and maximized every Republican district population in the state.

That’s the same case cited by Chris Wiest, attorney for northern Kentucky plaintiffs in the federal case challenging Kentucky’s maps, in motions before the court.

Other Republicans complained that their districts, especially those in northern Kentucky, have more than the ideal population size and will likely be out of compliance with the five percent deviation guideline long before the next U.S. Census.

Smart, one of the two dissenting Democrats, said her county is punished because it and its major city, Richmond, have grown rapidly and now the county is split into five districts. Only one of the five representatives – Smart – lives in Madison County she said. Lee made a similar argument about Hardin County where he lives and which is split six ways.

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