LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With statewide redistricting in the wings, House Republicans submitted their proposal early, a move which would split Laurel County into five separate districts.
Currently the county is divided into four districts and is represented in the House by Tommy Turner in the 85th district, Marie Rader in the 89th, Jim Stewart in the 86th, and Regina Bunch in the 82nd.
The new Republican proposal, however, will edge part of Laurel County into the 90th district, taking the largest part of the London precincts in addition to Bush, Lake, Blackwater, and Johnson precincts into Representative Tim Couch's 90th district.
Representatives with the Kentucky House Republicans said the reason for the split of the Laurel precincts is due to a loss of population in the Leslie and Harlan county areas, thus requiring some shifting of the population into other representative districts.
The largest Laurel district is the 85th, represented by Tommy Turner, includes a large portion of eastern Pulaski County and the western part of Laurel County. Although the Republican Caucus representatives said much of the Pulaski territory bordering the Laurel County line is a "large geographic area with little population," the Pulaski County residents included in the 85th district still outnumber the Laurel residents by nearly 10,000 people.
Laurel County residents are the smallest number in each of the five proposed districts. In the 90th district, only 12,438 residents are represented with Leslie and Harlan counties. The 89th district which is represented by Marie Rader will only have 5,547 residents represented against residents in Jackson, Lee, Breathitt and Owsley counties.
The 86th district, which includes Knox County, has 13,452 Laurel residents represented, while the Whitley County area and the southern Laurel County precincts of the 82nd District, represented by Regina Bunch, has only 9,747 Laurel residents.
But the split is a necessary measure, according to officials with the Kentucky House Republican Caucus’ office in Frankfort.