Covering Kentucky

May 11, 2013 4:24 PM

Lawsuit Calls For Judges To Do Redistricting

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The latest lawsuit filed in Kentucky's dispute over legislative redistricting calls for a three-judge panel to redraw political boundaries.

American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky attorney Bill Sharp filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of five Kentuckians who claim the inaction of lawmakers has left them without adequate representation in the state Legislature.

Lawmakers don't want to turn redistricting over to federal judges, said state Sen. Dorsey Ridley, D-Henderson.

"Lawmakers are given a number of things to do through the Kentucky Constitution, and one of them is redistricting," he said. "That's our responsibility, and I think we need to be ones to handle that."

Named as defendants were the Kentucky Board of Elections and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

A group of northern Kentucky residents filed suit in federal court last month against Gov. Steve Beshear and other state officials in an attempt to force the Legislature to act. Two judge-executives, a county clerk and nine residents charge in the lawsuit that rapid growth in northern Kentucky has left them without adequate representation in the Legislature.

Beshear has said he's considering calling lawmakers back to Frankfort this year for a special legislative session on political redistricting.

Always a divisive issue, redistricting is supposed to occur every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate.

The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down lawmakers' initial redistricting plan last year, finding that the proposed districts weren't balanced by population and didn't comply with the federal and state "one person, one vote" mandate.

The House approved a subsequent plan earlier this year, but the Senate opted to wait until next year's legislative session to deal with the issue. Senate leaders said they wanted to pass both House and Senate redistricting at the same time, so neither got final passage.

Both Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers have said they're ready to address the issue if Beshear calls them into special session.

Lawmakers completed congressional redistricting last year, so that's not an issue in either of the pending court cases.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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