Kentucky GOP lawmakers put redistricting on fast track
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican legislative leaders signaled Tuesday that they want to wrap up redistricting work quickly, putting the proposed new maps on a fast track toward passage late this week.
Senate and House redistricting bills introduced on the session’s opening day were scheduled to be reviewed in committees Wednesday. Other procedural moves taken Tuesday also were meant to accelerate the process.
After months of work, the redistricting blueprint came into focus late Tuesday. The proposed new map for congressional districts would keep Jefferson County — the state’s most populous area and a Democratic stronghold — largely in the 3rd Congressional District. Franklin County, which includes the state capital of Frankfort, would be moved out of the 6th District and into the 1st District, a GOP stronghold covering far western Kentucky along with several southern counties. The sprawling 1st District would wrap into portions of central Kentucky under the proposed map.
House GOP leaders initially unveiled new maps for the chamber’s 100 districts last week. Senate Republican leaders waited until Tuesday to reveal plans for redrawing boundaries for Kentucky’s six congressional and 38 Senate districts.
GOP leaders hope to send the measures to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear by Saturday. The once-a-decade task reshapes the maps in response to shifting population trends across Kentucky.
Republicans on Tuesday answered one of the key questions looming over redistricting — what they would do with the 3rd Congressional District. It’s the only U.S. House seat from Kentucky that’s held by a Democrat.
GOP Senate President Robert Stivers told reporters the Louisville-area 3rd District would not undergo substantial changes. The seat is now held by Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, the influential chairman of the House Budget Committee.
“I believe it will be predominantly what Congressman Yarmuth represents now,” Stivers said.
Yarmuth announced last fall that he won’t seek reelection. Democrats are favored to retain the seat, in one of the few Democratic strongholds left in Kentucky, though the GOP has held it in the past.
Under the proposed new map, most of Jefferson County — which includes Louisville — would remain in the 3rd District. An eastern sliver of the county would be placed in the 2nd District, which is represented by Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie.
Meanwhile, no incumbent state senators were placed in the same districts under the plan unveiled Tuesday, Stivers said. Proposed maps released by House Republicans last week would pit four pairs of incumbents — split equally among Republicans and Democrats — against one another this year.