TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Homepage

August 20, 2013

Redistricting Kentucky

State lawmakers convene in Frankfort Monday

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

A federal court ruling has complicated the schedule and process of the special session of the General Assembly that convened Monday with the intention of passing redistricting maps by Friday.

The General Assembly is defending two federal suits — one by northern Kentucky individuals and the other by the American Civil Liberties Union — seeking to force it to pass constitutionally-appropriate maps or in the alternative asking the federal judges to draw new maps.

Last Friday, federal Judges William Bertlesman, Gregory van Tatenhove and Danny Boggs issued an order declaring the existing legislative maps drawn in 2002 unconstitutional and prohibiting their use in any future elections.

That set off a weekend of motions by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, asking the court to withdraw or amend the order by Monday afternoon.

But after an unusual teleconference late Monday afternoon, during which the judges heard arguments from attorneys from all sides, the court granted the plaintiffs until 5 p.m. Tuesday to file briefs opposing Stumbo’s motions.

Under the U.S. Constitution, state legislatures must draw new legislative districts to reflect essentially equal populations every 10 years following the U.S. Census count.

In 2012, the General Assembly passed new legislative maps, but they were subsequently declared unconstitutional by state courts. While the House passed a new map for its districts this past spring, the Senate declined to act upon it.

Subsequently, the two federal lawsuits were filed and a Sept. 23 trial date was set by the federal panel. That prompted Gov. Steve Beshear to call the special session that convened Monday to pass new, constitutionally-appropriate maps the court could review before the Sept. 23 hearing.

Then came Friday’s order declaring the 2002 maps immediately void.

According to Stumbo and his attorneys — Pierce and Anna Whites — that leaves no way to conduct special elections for any vacancies that might occur before the 2014 elections. It would also require that the maps enacted in the special session contain an emergency clause that would make them effective immediately.

Whites filed a motion Saturday arguing the emergency clause requires 51 votes in the House to pass the bill — 11 more than the minimum necessary for passage of ordinary legislation — and that could mean the difference between passage or failure of the bill.

Then late Monday, Whites filed a second motion, asking the court to amend its Friday order to allow the 2002 district lines to be used if any special elections become necessary before 2014.

The judges held an unusual impromptu teleconference on the motion Monday to allow attorneys for all sides to argue the motions.

Whites argued during that teleconference that without the requested amendment there now are no legislative district lines under which to have a special election. Such elections, he said, are to fill unexpired terms of those elected by the people living in the previous map’s district, and the Friday order eliminates those districts.

If the special election were held under the new lines, the winner would be elected by voters who weren’t eligible to vote for the representative being replaced. It might even be possible, Whites said, for some districts to have two representatives while another had none.

Chris Wiest, attorney for the northern Kentucky plaintiffs, and William Sharp, representing the ACLU, argued against the motion, saying a previous Kentucky Supreme Court provided for such an eventuality — a statewide, at-large election. Presumably, that might mean votes in 120 counties for one legislative district seat, although that wasn’t immediately clear Monday. They also asked for time to file briefs in response to the two motions.

Van Tatenhove suggested if a special election became necessary, the legislature might petition the court, but Whites objected saying that would be a clear constitutional violation of the separation of powers.

After conferring among themselves, the judges issued the ruling around 7 p.m. Monday, giving plaintiffs 24 hours to file briefs but did not rule on the motions themselves.

Their ultimate ruling and its timing could conceivably extend the special session, Whites said, because each chamber must pass its bill with its own map by mid-day Wednesday, in time for the other to act upon it in the minimum amount of time.

Each additional day would cost taxpayers an extra $60,000.

1
Text Only
Homepage
0721 flower show 3521.jpg

Local News
Local Sports
  • Tripped Up: Tough loss follows Saturday's walk-off win

    By Chris Parsons
    Sports Editor
    BOWLING GREEN — The Corbin Little League All Stars began the 2014 State Tournament with as exciting a finish as any baseball fan could hope for, but struggled on day two, falling to 1-1 after the first two days.

    July 21, 2014

  • Comeback Effort: Knox County recovers from 24-0 loss, grabs 4-2 win in pool play

    By Chris Parsons
    Sports Editor
    BOWLING GREEN — After what could have turned in to a demoralizing 24-0 loss to Eastern to start State Tournament pool play Saturday, the Knox County 11-year-old All Stars recovered nicely Sunday, picking up a 4-2 win over Paintsville.

    July 21, 2014

Editorials
Features
0708 Kelsey White Miss Ky.jpg

Kelsey White

  • Local woman vyes for Miss Kentucky crown

    A Williamsburg woman is among the 32 contestants representing local scholarship pageants from across the state who will vye for the title of Miss Kentucky 2014. 

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

Letters
Entertainment
  • July’s jumpin’ in Downtown Corbin

    After Thursday’s fun, festivities and fireworks during the Independence Day Block Party, how do you top the month best known as the sizzling center of summer?

    July 7, 2014

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Facebook