The longest serving congressman in Kentucky would see the boundaries around his largely mountainous district drastically reshaped under a plan that cleared the state House on Tuesday.
Other congressional districts also would be geographically reformed in the proposal that cleared the Democratic-controlled House 54-42, largely along party lines. Only two Democrats, Rep. Rick Nelson of Middlesboro and Rep. Jody Richards of Bowling Green, broke ranks to vote against the measure.
The Republican-controlled state Senate has signaled it will not go along with the House’s approved map. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says too many changes will throw the entire process off course for at least a year.
“While most Kentuckians are worried about finding or keeping their jobs, Ben Chandler is obviously more concerned about protecting his own job by promoting an incumbent-protection scheme that removes tens of thousands of central Kentucky voters from the 6th Congressional District.”
That’s kinda what we’re looking at. Chandler gets bluer, Hal’s home county gets cut in half and Ed Whitfield complains about having to talk to more people in Central Kentucky. Several people are unhappy, Stumbo and Beshear are sniping at each, it’s another year in Kentucky.
The Associated Press reported that Stumbo’s proposal would move Owensboro from the 2nd Congressional District into U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield’s 1st District, which currently begins in far western Kentucky, dips to the south through Simpson and Allen counties and ends to the east of U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie’s 2nd District.
“I don’t like what I have seen from the congressional redistricting,” Richards said. “I would like to keep Daviess County in the 2nd District. I know Congressman Guthrie has suggested strongly he wanted to keep (Daviess) in the 2nd District. I think with Owensboro, Bowling Green, Radcliff and Elizabethtown, I think together it is a good district.”
At the same time, Stumbo is saying that a decision on the State Legislative districts may be put off until 2013, a luxury not afforded Congressional seats, because so many people are unhappy with how it’s all going.
The 2013 threat is part of Stumbo’s argument that no one listened to him when he called for a special session to decide this and, in particular, that Gov. Beshear opposed such, leaving the situation now unresolved and messy:
Rank-and-file lawmakers voiced frustration last week, particularly those from Kentucky’s mountain region where the population has declined over the past decade.
“It overrides the session until we get it done; there’s no question about it,” Stumbo said. “It does become contentious.”
He reminded reporters that he had called for a special session late last year to deal with the issue. In recent days, he has suggested the issue could be delayed.
Brammer reports this morning that the Congressional question will likely get a full House vote this week, possibly today, and that our dutiful Frankfort leaders will also take up the question, or attempt to, of statewide redistricting this week:
House State Government Committee chairman Mike Cherry, D-Princeton, said Monday that his panel was scheduled to take up legislation to redraw boundaries for the 100 state House districts on Wednesday.
He also said the full House might vote Tuesday on a congressional redistricting plan in House Bill 2 that emerged from his committee last week.
Cherry would not offer any details of the leadership’s plan to redraw the boundaries of the state House districts. Some House members already have expressed concern that their district boundaries will be changed dramatically.
So this is how we start 2012. It’s enough to put poor politicos into foul moods:
Lawmakers have only been in town for six working days, but some will tell you it feels closer to 60 at least in terms of the mood and the testiness.
It’s not hard to explain. Hovering over a controversial question of expanded gambling, over a “horrendous” budget, and everything else is a subject more important than all others to lawmakers — redistricting, said House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown.
“I can’t ever remember the tension and the frustration being this high during the first week. There are a lot of unknowns about everything, especially about re-districting.”