Kentucky moving fast on redistricting plan

August 21, 2013

The Kentucky House is likely to vote Wednesday on a plan to redraw the state’s legislative boundaries, the only agenda item in a fast-paced special session made necessary after the state’s high court ruled the initial drafts unconstitutional.

The new maps passed the House State Government Committee by a wide, bipartisan margin Tuesday. House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters Tuesday he thought the bill would win between 60 and 80 votes in the 100-member chamber, enough to trigger a so-called emergency clause, which means the new district lines would go into effect as soon as Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, signs the measure.

The state Senate would have to vote on the plan once it passes the House, but traditionally both chambers have ratified the other’s redistricting maps.

The new plan would force incumbents in four districts — two pairs of Democrats and two pairs of Republicans — to run against each other in 2014. In April, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that uneven populations between districts made the initial proposal unconstitutional.

The legislature convened a special session on Monday to deal with the new map.

The new lines are unlikely to affect the partisan makeup of the lower chamber. Democrats hold a 55-45 seat advantage in the state House, while Republicans control a 22-14 majority in the state Senate, along with an independent and one vacancy. Kentucky is one of three states, along with Iowa and New Hampshire, where each party controls one branch of the legislature.

Update: The Kentucky state House passed the plan by an 83-17 vote Wednesday afternoon. The map now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to pass by a similarly wide margin.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Reid Wilson · August 20, 2013