General Assembly And Governor Enact New Legislative Districts; Court Approval Likely

Aug 23, 2013

FRANKFORT— Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester (left), confers with Senate Democratic Floor Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, prior to the start of the day's legislative session in the Kentucky Senate.
Credit Legislative Research Commission

FRANKFORT: New legislative boundaries for 138 members of the general assembly have been approved by the general assembly and signed into law by Kentucky’s governor.   The final votes in favor of legislative redistricting were overwhelming; 35 to two in the Kentucky Senate and 79 to 18 in the House.  Most of the debate occured as the full Senate took its first vote on the bill.  Senate President Robert Stivers says the impact of these new district boundaries will be seen across the Commonwealth.

“When you move five thousand people in Fayette County, it will ripple all the way down to Pulaski County, and when you look at a county in western Kentucky and you move it around, it will ripple all the way to central Kentucky,” said Stivers.

Legislator redistricting is done every ten years and, in Kentucky, is often a very partisan process.  In the Senate this year, Democratic Minority Leader RJ Palmer claims that wasn’t the case.  Palmer remembers when President Stivers, who’s a Republican, first approached him about redistricting.

“I want you to draw a map.  I don’t want to know what it is.  I want you to work with members of my staff and your own staff and produce a map.  After I stood back up from shock, I said I’ll be glad to do it, I appreciate the opportunity,” added Palmer.

Although voting yes, Grayson Senator Robin Webb was sorry to lose some constituents, who are now in a different district.

“It’s almost like losing an appendage or losing an arm.  It’s very personal, and I can’t hardly talk about it without getting emotional.  So, I want to talk about to my people, that I’m losing or losing me, and it is personal and I appreciate em and we’ve go through a lot together and it’s hard,”  explained Webb.

Senator Joe Bowen speaks on the Senate floor during Friday's debate on redistricting.
Credit Stu Johnson / WEKU News

Without much fanfare, the bill returned to the House and won final approval.  The general assembly’s first attempt at redistricting was overthrown by the state supreme court.  But this time, House Speaker Greg Stumbo doesn’t anticipate any trouble.

“We’ve done all we can do.  If a federal court finds a legitimate reason to do so, it will be one we don’t know about,” said Stumbo.

Governor Beshear had signed the bill into law before midday with no ceremony.