FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — On Thursday, the GOP leaders of the Kentucky House of Representatives revealed their plan to re-do the state's legislative districts.
This was the first time the public got to see the re-drawn House map, which reflects the population shifts determined by the latest Census.
House Speaker David Osborne says the map makes a lot of changes, but he believes it keeps communities intact and creates more compact districts. So, he stands by their work."We would draw a thoughtful map that complied with every legal and constitutional requirement, and I believe we did that," said Osborne. "Certainly, there will be second-guessing into all of it. But, I think it's a map that we can be proud of."
Osborne said one of the key changes includes expanding the number of majority-minority districts from two to four. These are districts in which the majority of voters are minorities.
The other key change Osborne noted was that some of the newly reshaped districts will force four sets of incumbents - two pairs of Republicans and two pairs of Democrats - to face off against each other.
The incumbents placed in that position are:
- Norma Kirk-McCormick (R) of House district 93 and Bobby McCool (R) of House district 97 (Eastern Kentucky)
- Lynn Bechler (R) of House district 4 and Jim Gooch Jr. (R) of House district 12 (Western Kentucky)
- Mary Lou Marzian (D) of House district 34 and Josie Raymond (D) of House district 31 (Jefferson County)
- McKenzie Cantrell (D) of House district 38 and Lisa Willner (D) of House district 35 (Jefferson County)
Democrats in leadership positions criticized the GOP for revealing their plan this late in the process.
"I think what we have witnessed here today is an attempt at fake transparency," said House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins. "I think it is by design that these maps were dropped today - on a state holiday - when there is no nonpartisan staff here to interpret them."
Democrats also voiced their concern about the impact of these changes on minority areas in Fayette County.
"Concerned that there may be a dilution of minority influence in the 77th district," said Jenkins.
The 77th District currently covers a big part of Lexington’s historically Black eastern part of downtown.
The GOP, however, believes that the proposed map would increase the district's proportion of minority constituents.
"We maximized communities' influence as much as possible, to every extent possible," said Osborne. "This map does not divide a single precinct in the entire state of Kentucky."
Osborne said the goal is to pass the maps by January 8th. That tight turnaround means the public will only have a few days to look at and analyze the proposed maps.
The Senate has yet to reveal its map proposal and the congressional map proposal.
Kentucky's redistricting process has taken longer than usual this time around because the pandemic delayed the 2020 census data.