August 26, 2013

County to sue over redistricting plan

Sen. Robinson recommends legal action over five-way split

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Whether Laurel County will file its own individual lawsuit or join a northern Kentucky county remains in question.

But what is certain is the legislative redistricting plan passed in Frankfort on Wednesday — splitting Laurel County into five districts —  and magistrates plan to file a lawsuit that such action is unconstitutional.

Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson addressed the fiscal court on Thursday, bringing State Sen. Albert Robinson to the forefront to explain some specifics of the redistricting.

Robinson advocated some legal action after watching the plan pass in the House.

He said a northern Kentucky county that was split several ways intended to file a lawsuit challenging the division that gives them no majority vote in the House of Representatives, similar to what the five-way split will do to Laurel County.

“There was not one voice for Laurel County,” Robinson said. “We have no voice in the House for Laurel County. Only one representative voted in favor of Laurel County.

 “I recommend that you file a lawsuit either joining the other county that has filed or to file a suit of your own.” Magistrates approved the suggestion unanimously.

Redistricting must be done every 10 years in accordance to the U.S. Census population reports. The new plan will move all of the London voting precincts except London #2 and London #4 into the 90th District. Joining them will be the Blackwater, Bush, Lake and Johnson precincts. The 90th district includes Leslie and Clay counties and Laurel will then have a smaller number of voters than the other counties with 12,438 voters. Laurel County voters again are the smallest number of voters in the 89th District, represented by Marie Rader, which is also includes Jackson, Lee, Breathitt, and Owsley counties.

Laurel County again is the minority in the 86th District of Jim Stewart that includes Knox County, while Regina Bunch’s 82nd District that includes Whitley County, will have only 9,747 residents represented in the southern Laurel County precincts.

“This has been done before,” Robinson told magistrates, “and if we don’t do something, Laurel County will never have representation as a majority, making it impossible to ever have someone from Laurel County elected as a representative.”

Laurel County Attorney J. L. Albright was not present for Thursday’s meeting but Westerfield said he and magistrates would be speaking with Albright concerning the lawsuit.