Kentucky’s Political Lineup
The legislative deadline is May 2003, according to the state constitution. There is no congressional deadline. The expectation by state observers is that a special session will deliver a new plan by April 2001.
Who’s in Charge of Redistricting?
The state legislature is in charge of drawing both congressional and state legislative districts. The state and Local Government Committee in the senate, and the State Government Committee in the house has jurisdiction. The governor has veto power over both plans.
Public hearings are scheduled and have been well covered by public television in the past. Bill descriptions of redistricting plans will be made available on the Internet for this round, but no visual maps will be put on the Internet. However, printed maps will be made available to the public at the state capitol.
Republicans are holding a bare majority in the state senate, but Democrats hold a commanding majority in the state house. With a Democratic governor Democrats will stand a good chance of shaping congressional seats for the next decade.
Currently, Kentucky’s U.S. House seats are some of the most competitive in the nation. Out of six congressional districts, all but Republican Ron Lewis serve in districts that could be considered competitive. Republican Anne Northup represents a Democratic-leaning district, while freshman Democrat Ken Lucas represents a Republican-leaning district. With only one congressional Democrat and five Republicans, Kentucky is a national battleground state for control of Congress. In 2001, statehouse Democrats may try to redraw district lines to place more Democratic voters in marginal Republican districts, and could also try to take Republican voters out of Lucas’ district to give him better chances at re-election. The Republicans’ recently-gained control of the state senate – its first ever in Kentucky -- could prove crucial.
Legal IssuesThe Kentucky legislature's 1991 state legislative district plan was determined by the Supreme Court of Kentucky to be in violation of state constitutional law. The plaintiff claimed that the plan split an excessive number of counties in violation of a state constitutional requirement that the fewest number of counties possible be divided. The court agreed, and invalidated the plan. The Kentucky General Assembly enacted a new plan in 1996, which was unsuccessfully challenged on similar state constitutional grounds.