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September 9, 2013

Laurel County may be the only challenge to redistricting maps

'We're not sure we could go it alone'

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —

FRANKFORT — When two groups suing the legislature over its failure for two years to pass new legislative maps said they would not object to the maps enacted in a special session it sounded as if the controversy was over.

Attorneys for the two groups of plaintiffs said at the same time they would oppose any motion to dismiss the suits, citing the possibility others might be considering legal action and if that happened, the plaintiffs wanted to participate in any settlement.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s general counsel, Pierce Whites, said the legislature may file a petition to dismiss the suits because the enacted maps address all the constitutional inadequacies of previous maps and adhere to court guidelines on population.

But Laurel County Fiscal Court voted last week to explore a legal challenge to the way the House map splits the county five ways.

Laurel County isn’t the only county split several ways – Boone and Madison are split among five districts and Hardin is split six ways. Representatives from each of those counties decried the way the House map divides their counties during debate and voted against it.

But it looks like if Laurel County wants to challenge the new maps in court, it will have to go it alone. And that may not happen.

Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson said he and Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, discussed the new maps a week ago with Laurel Fiscal Court which ended up voting to ask County Attorney J.L. Albright to investigate the merits of litigation.

“We’re kind of in a wait-and-see attitude,” Johnson said this week. “We’re not sure we could go it alone.”

Albright said the court would prefer to join other counties in a combined suit rather than file its own individual suit.

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