Title

Rep. Yonts: Political redistricting is a must-do

Author: ROGER ALFORD
Associated Press State Wire: Kentucky
March 15, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Lawmakers need to deal with legislative redistricting this year to avoid chaos heading into next year's elections, the chairman of the House State Government Committee said Friday.

Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said lawmakers need new political boundaries drawn now so they can prepare for the 2014 elections when all 100 House seats and half of the 38 Senate seats could be up for grabs.

The filing deadline for next year's legislative elections is Jan. 31, four weeks after lawmakers convene the 2014 legislative session, leaving little time to complete redistricting if they wait.

"If we don't do it this year, there's going to be chaos next January," Yonts said.

The Democratic-controlled House prepared a redistricting plan that could strengthen their majority by forcing 11 Republicans to run against each other next year. It passed 53-46 earlier this month along party lines. But the Republican-led Senate has refused to act on it.

Yonts called Friday for the Senate to pass the House plan when the Legislature returns from a break March 25. The Senate opted to wait until next year to deal with its own redistricting plan. And it remains to be seen whether the Senate will approve the House plan with two working days remaining in the legislative session.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said he's willing to publicly pledge that House Democrats would pass the Senate plan as proposed next year if the Senate moves ahead with the House plan this year.

Always a divisive issue, redistricting occurs every 10 years to account for population changes found by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky's overall population grew from 4 million to 4.3 million between 2000 and 2010. The change requires a major reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate.

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

___

The legislation is House Bill 2.