Kentucky's Redistricting News
Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." February
Bluegrass Map Passes
Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton (D)signed a compromise House map late Thursday that denied Rep. Anne Northup's (R)bid to claim a new GOP county, but still slightly increased the Republican strength in her Louisville-based 3rd district.
The filing deadline, which was delayed last Tuesday when the state's divided Legislature failed to meet a court-imposed deadline to approve a plan, passed Friday evening, leaving Northup as the only House Member with a top-tier challenger. Vice President Cheney will attend a fundraiser for Northup on Thursday.
The plan rejects Northup's bid to include nearby Oldham County, a GOP stronghold, in the new 3rd district, based in Jefferson County. But the map nonetheless added several GOP-leaning precincts that should help Northup this fall.
Northup is likely to face Jack Conway (D), a former Patton aide, in November.
Conway spokesman Mark Riddle said the Democrat "is very pleased that the 3rd district remains in Jefferson County despite the best efforts of a very partisan Republican Congressional delegation to move the district into Oldham County."
A day after passing a divisive legislative redistricting plan, House leaders yesterday considered changing the lines of three Louisville districts to ensure solid African-American voting majorities.
As drawn, the three districts have black population majorities. But only two have majorities of African Americans of voting age; the third has more voting-age whites than blacks because House leaders mistakenly used overall population data rather than voting-age data in drawing them.
Increasing the percentages of voting-age blacks in the districts would be intended to fend off a possible lawsuit by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The NAACP and black legislators say the percentages of African Americans in the districts have been so diluted that it could be difficult to elect blacks, even if African-American voters constitute a majority.
''To let this stand will represent the most serious damage done to the black community this century or last,'' said Sen. Gerald Neal, DLouisville.
Neal, the only African American in the Senate, alerted House leaders to the problem.
House Speaker Jody Richards said he and other Democratic leaders hope to meet with NAACP representatives soon to determine what, if anything, can be done. Richards said changes in the districts could be made during the current legislative session. He doesn't believe the deadline for filing to run for office, which was at 4 p.m. yesterday, would have to be extended to make changes.
''We certainly think they've got a good case,'' Richards said when asked about the NAACP's concerns. ''They want us to hear the whole case, and I think that's what we want to do.''
Rep. Paul Bather, D-Louisville, said he expects to arrange the meeting next week.
But even AS Richards was talking about meeting with NAACP officials, the civil-rights organization was considering filing a lawsuit.
''Our lawyers are looking at it now,'' said Raoul Cunningham, director of Kentucky voter empowerment for the NAACP. ''If Jody Richards or anyone in House leadership called and asked to meet, I would certainly let our lawyers know right away.''
Legislative leaders had intended to create three black-majority House districts in Louisville -- and thought they had until Neal pointed out the problem yesterday.
Sen. Gerald Neal said, ''To let this stand will represent the most serious damage done to the black community this century or last.'' Neal said he learned about the problem with the districts Thursday night and alerted House leaders.
Because officials used overall population figures rather than the number of voting-age residents, the two historically black Louisville districts now give blacks only a marginal advantage, and what was thought to be a new black-majority district actually has a voting-age population only 47.6 percent black.
Cunningham said Democrats should have accepted the NAACP's recommendations provided to them on Jan. 10.
''I wish the House had taken a more serious look at our proposals,'' he said. ''It was clearly outlined -- our districts were compact, they were contiguous. It was not that ridiculous crap they produced.''
Republicans offered a plan that was advantageous to them but that also created three black-majority districts in Louisville and another district that would have been more than 35 percent black.
Bather, who helped draw the district lines for the Democrats, said yesterday that mistakes were made because the population figures were the only ones he and Rep. Reginald Meeks had at the time, and that they were given little time to draw the districts.
Bather and Meeks, the only two Louisville African Americans in the House, were allowed input in drawing their own districts within certain limits set by House leaders.
Meeks' old 42nd District was 71.2 percent voting-age African American, while 68.1 percent of Bather's 43rd District was voting-age blacks. Under the new district lines, Meeks' district dropped to 52.6 percent voting-age African American, and Bather's dropped to 54.1 percent.
The 41st District, represented by Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, was supposed to be the third black-majority district, with 53.1 percent black residents. But only 47.6 percent of the district's voting-age residents are black.
Courts have generally found that the 1965 Voting Rights Act requires that figure to be about 60 percent in black-majority districts to ensure that African Americans are a majority of the people voting.
Bather said yesterday that all three districts could be changed to include a higher percentage of blacks by swapping a few precincts with Democratic Rep. Dennis Horlander's 40th District. Bather said he hadn't yet spoken with Horlander but wouldn't attempt such a switch without his approval.
Horlander couldn't be reached for comment.
Bather said he didn't know if the changes would get the black votingage population up to the 60 percent goal. But he said he'd feel more comfortable ''if all three districts were in the high fifties.''
He also suggested the percentage of voting-age blacks in Neal's Louisville Senate district could be boosted above its current 56.7 percent by trading voters with Sen. David Karem, D-Louisville.
Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican, said he does not believe the districts can be changed now that the filing deadline has passed. But he said he's concerned about the makeup of the House districts.
''We had been assured that those lines that were drawn had been drawn in conjunction with the NAACP and were in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965,'' he said. ''Now I pick the newspaper up this morning and I found out the NAACP had great reservations with these lines.
"I don't know what we can do about that," Williams said. ". . . It would appear to me that they (House Democrats) have invited litigation."
Neal said he learned about the problem Thursday night.
Neal has accused Williams of using the Voting Rights Act for political purposes. If Williams is committed to ensuring that blacks are represented, Neal said yesterday, he should help find a solution.
''As much as David Williams used the NAACP, it seems to me he should be thankful and show his gratitude by supporting any effort they have to correct the mistake that's been made,'' Neal said.
The legislature and Gov. Paul Patton wrote new legislative and congressional districts into law last night and gave candidates until 4 p.m. today to file or refile for this year's elections.
Patton's signing of the bill about 6:30 p.m. ended months of partisan wrangling, climaxed by more than three weeks of infighting that threatened to extend a court battle and greatly complicate the legislative session. But senators indicated yesterday that the deal could spur passage of black-lung legislation for coal miners.
The redistricting bill sets the candidate filing deadline for this year's congressional and General Assembly races at 4 p.m. EST today. Candidates must file at the secretary of state's office in the state Capitol in Frankfort. Primary elections are still set for May 28.
The bill strengthens the hand of the narrow Republican majority in the Senate and the longstanding Democratic advantage in the House. It keeps Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's 3rd Congressional District inside Jefferson County but makes it more Republican. Northup had wanted to add Oldham County to her district.
Republicans got most of what they wanted, putting two Democratic senators into the same district, forcing another to run in midterm and giving Senate Democratic Whip Marshall Long of Shelbyville a district so competitive he announced that he would retire from the legislature this year.
Rep. Larry Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, whose Bullitt County was added to Long's 20th District, said he will run against Rep. Gary Tapp, R-Shelbyville, to succeed Long.
The bill also draws an almost entirely new district for Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville, one of two former Democrats whose party switches gave Republicans 20-18 control of the Senate, and keeps out of that district Democrat Virginia Woodward, who has been running against Seum for more than a year.
Sen. Larry Saunders, D-Louisville, said he thinks his daughter, homemaker Terry Cardwell, will file to run against Seum today. Saunders and Seum are bitter enemies, but Saunders said that has nothing to do with his daughter's potential candidacy. He said he voted against the redistricting plan because of what it did for Seum. Others voting no were Long and Sens. David Karem, D-Louisville, and Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington.
Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, spoke before the Senate passed the redistricting bill 33-4. The bill creates a third House district in Louisville with an African-American majority and a ''minority influence'' district that could elect a second African American to the Senate.
Senate President David Williams signed the compromise redistricting bill after a conference committee meeting yesterday.
Seum's 38th District also includes Sen. Lindy Casebier, R-Louisville, who has been elected to a term running through 2004. Casebier, who represented Bullitt County and part of Jefferson County, said he offered to sacrifice his seat.
The plan means Jefferson County, which did not gain population as fast as the rest of the state, will have six resident senators instead of seven. It also loses a House seat and will now have 17 House members. Longtime Rep. Bob Heleringer, R-Eastwood, was placed in a district with Rep. Ron Crimm, R-Middletown, and is quitting the House, which passed the bill 93-7.
The bill creates a third House district in Louisville with an AfricanAmerican majority and a ''minority influence'' district that could elect a second African American to the Senate. Karem, the Senate Democratic leader, lives in the latter district, the 35th, which will be almost entirely new to him, but he is in the middle of a four-year term.
Most of Karem's old territory is now in the 19th District of Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, who abstained as the plan passed the Senate 33-4. He said afterward, ''I couldn't vote for the bill because of the process,'' in which he said he was not consulted, and its ''shenanigans'' such as the exclusion of Woodward from Seum's district.
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, told the Senate in a floor speech that the plan ''is not as vindictive as any previous redistricting effort that has been done by the Democratic Party,'' which had failed to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act by creating enough opportunities for African Americans to be elected to the legislature.
Democrats said Republicans were using their issue to their own advantage, because creation of more majority-black districts makes some other districts less Democratic. They said Republicans showed their true colors when they tried at the last minute to exclude former University of Kentucky basketball star Derrick Hord, an African American, from the district of Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington. Hord, a Democrat, filed this week against Kerr, the sister of 1995 Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Forgy.
The flap over Kerr's district delayed passage of redistricting by one day. Senate Republican leaders agreed to keep Hord in Kerr's district, saying the issue wasn't that important and voicing confidence that she will defeat him to win a second term.
''Alice Forgy Kerr did not even want us to hold out for that particular situation,'' Williams said. Kerr declined to say what she had asked for, but noted that she had voted for an earlier plan that had Hord in her district.
The Senate plan puts Democratic Sens. Ed Miller of Cynthiana and R.J. Palmer of Winchester in the same district and creates two nearby districts without incumbents.
The bill excludes at least two other Democratic-primary challengers from districts in which they had filed. H.J. Rumage of Owensboro filed against Rep. John Arnold of Sturgis, but is now in the district of Rep. Jim Gooch of Providence, and Margaret Harris of Louisville filed to make a second race against Rep. Reginald Meeks, but wound up in the district of Rep. Paul Bather, whom she said she does not want to oppose.
Harris blamed Meeks for excluding her. He denied that. House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said he had Meeks, Bather and Rep. Tom Riner revise their districts in order to create the third majority-black district. Riner, a white Democrat who is in that district, had called for its creation.
The districts are not black enough, said Raoul Cunningham, director of Kentucky voter empowerment for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. ''We're very disappointed,'' he said, adding that he would ask national NAACP officials to challenge the plan in court.
Cunningham said the black votingage population of Riner's district is only 47.5 percent, while the 40th District of white Rep. Dennis Horlander, D-Shively, has 32 percent. He also said the plan does not create any more ''minority influence'' districts like the one in the Senate plan.
The House plan could have other legal problems. It splits 27 counties, four more than the state Supreme Court has indicated that the state constitution would allow.
Counties smaller than a district are not supposed to be split, with very limited exceptions dictated by geography, but tiny Spencer County is divided three ways. Harlan County, which is covered by one of the exceptions, is split four ways. Split two ways are Letcher, Rowan and Wolfe counties.
Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, who filed the lawsuit that produced the court's latest opinions on the issue, said last night that he is leaning toward challenging the House plan in court, and did not rule out trying to get a new map drawn for this year's elections.
That could seriously complicate the election process, which includes a May 28 primary, and the legislative session, which must end by April 15. Election officials have said the filing deadline should be no later than March 11 for a May 28 primary.
Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham indefinitely extended the filing deadline Tuesday, when it passed without new districts being enacted. He said last night that he expects to dissolve that order today after getting a motion to do so.
Most members of the House's Democratic majority got the districts they wanted, and some Republicans suffered.
Rep. Howard Cornett, R-Whitesburg, was placed in the same district with Rep. Ira Branham, D-Pikeville. Branham isn't seeking re-election, but the district is heavily Democratic.
Republican Reps. Brandon Smith of Hazard and Johnnie Turner of Harlan were placed in the same district, but Turner said he will run this year against Democratic Sen. Daniel Mongiardo in the 30th Senate District.
Mongiardo was elected in 2000 in the 17th District, which was moved to a strip along Interstate 75 between Lexington and Covington. If he is elected this year in the 30th District, that will be followed by a special election to fill the remainder of his term, and Republicans appear to have a good chance of winning the seat.
Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, said Turner's candidacy will help the chances of Turner's and Patton's bill to make it easier for miners to get workers' compensation benefits for black-lung disease. The proposal has died in the Senate twice.
Senate Republican Floor Leader Dan Kelly agreed, saying, ''We will pass a black-lung bill that will be as advantageous to coal miners as our last work on workers' compensation,'' which raised benefits for injured workers
Northern Kentucky will have a stronger voice in the General Assembly under a long fought-over redistricting plan the governor signed into law Thursday night.
The newly drawn boundaries for legislative districts give the region another seat in both the state Senate and House. As one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, the region needs more votes in the legislature, Northern Kentucky lawmakers said.
The new plan gives the region more influence in the General Assembly, said Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park, the primary proponent of adding a Senate district to the region.
The new Senate seat takes in much of Kenton County - including some Independence and Taylor Mill precincts - and all of Grant, Owen and Scott counties. That district, the 17th, is assigned to an Eastern Kentucky legislator, Sen. Dan Mongiardo, D-Hazard. Mongiardo's new district requires him to run again this year.
The 17th District will be up for election in 2004, but since Mongiardo will no longer be district's senator after this November's election, there will most likely be a special election to fill the seat.
In the House, a new district that includes Carroll County (the 47th district), was created and will be part of the Northern Kentucky caucus.
Roeding said he tried to talk House Democrats into drawing a third House seat into Boone County, one of the fastest growing counties in the state. Rep. Jim Callahan, D-Wilder, the member of House leadership who drew Northern Kentucky's new districts, said the map he drew was agreeable to all incumbents - both Democrat and Republican.
The Senate plan also puts two incumbent Democrats together in a district that includes Harrison County. Sens. Ed Miller, D-Cynthiana, and R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, will run against each other in the new 28th District.
The new maps were approved by the House and Senate on Thursday night after almost four weeks of strained, often contentious negotiations between the majority House Demo crats and majority Senate Republicans. This week, deals were made, then called off at least twice, with legislators working well into the night to try to come up with new boundaries.
The candidate filing deadline passed Tuesday with no new districts, prompting a Franklin Circuit Court judge to extend the filing deadline indefinitely. The legislature's redistricting plan set a deadline of 4 p.m. today.
The judge could change that deadline.
Redistricting, constitutionally required to be done every 10 years to adjust for population shifts, is a political exercise that always causes controversy. But the process was particularly acrimonious this year because power in the chambers is split between the parties - Democrats control the House, Republicans the Senate - for the first time in history.
The Senate voted 33-4 for the bill. The House voted 93-7.
House Democrats and Gov. Paul Patton gave in to Senate Republicans on redistricting last night but backed out after discovering a Democratic challenger had been taken out of a GOP state senator's district.
Democratic leaders said the Republicans refused to restore the challenger and appeared to be trying to leave redistricting to the courts, where GOPbacked lawsuits already are filed and where Republicans think they can prevail.
But Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said a top Patton aide had agreed to the district change, which would take former University of Kentucky basketball star Derrick Hord, who filed candidacy papers Monday, out of the Lexington district of one-term Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr.
Last night's breakdown leaves the politically sensitive issue of redistricting unresolved while candidates can still file to run for legislative and congressional seats. The situation hinders the introduction and passage of any controversial measures that could have an impact on campaigns.
The compromise that collapsed last night called for a new filing deadline of 4 p.m. tomorrow.
According to Williams, Hord was left in Kerr's district because of a drafting error when House and Senate negotiators agreed Tuesday on a plan that House Democrats later rejected. Williams said Republicans gave in after learning the error had occurred and Democrats refused to remove it.
But Williams said when he got word yesterday that Democrats were ready to adopt the plan after all, he told one of Patton's top aides, Cabinet Secretary Crit Luallen, that Hord would have to be taken out of the district, and she agreed.
Luallen said last night that she had spoken with Williams about Hord and there was a miscommunication between them. She said the discussion revolved around ''if they reach an agreement (between the House and Senate), would a change in one district be a deal-breaker? Our response was no. We were anxious to see a resolution.''
Senate Republican Floor Leader Dan Kelly of Springfield said that House Democrats had agreed to the change in Kerr's district and that House Speaker Jody Richards, DBowling Green, shouted to Williams, ''I don't care,'' about the Lexington districts.
Richards denied that. He said he was shocked to learn last night that Hord wasn't in Kerr's district.
Williams said it's possible ''that he's (Richards) telling the truth about that'' because the only time he heard Richards on the subject was in regard to an earlier agreement.
House Democratic Floor Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg said there was ''a general discussion'' in which Democrats said their main concern was Senate Democratic incumbents, not challengers. But ''we never agreed to move Derrick Hord,'' Stumbo said.
House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said Senate Republicans were being hypocritical. He said they had pressed for districts giving African Americans a better chance of being elected. Hord is an African American.
But Kelly said Republicans were being consistent because Hord probably would have a better chance of being elected from the other Lexington district, now represented by Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington. Scorsone isn't up for re-election until 2004.
Aaked why Hord was taken out of Kerr's district, Kelly said, ''When you develop a redistricting plan, you write one that's most advantageous to your members.''
Hord, in a statement last night, said: ''In my announcement two days ago, I said that as senator I would strive for excellence in government, and if allowed to run that is what I intend to do. It is obvious tonight that the idea of excellence in government is what the political party bosses in Frankfort fear most. I applaud those members of the General Assembly, Democrat and Republican, who stood up tonight and stopped the backroom dealmakers.''
The Lexington controversy mirrored one over a longstanding provision in the Republican Senate map and the compromise plan. That would give an almost entirely new district to Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville, one of two former Democrats whose party switches gave Republicans control of the Senate, and keep out of that district Democrat Virginia Woodward, who has been running against Seum for months.
Last night's breakdown was the latest dip in the legislature's rollercoaster redistricting ride.
On Tuesday, leaders of the House's Democratic majority had agreed to a compromise that would improve Republican chances of maintaining or increasing their narrow Senate majority and Republican U.S. Rep. Anne Northup's chances of being re-elected in the Louisville area's 3rd Congressional District.
But the House backed off the compromise that night after hearing objections from Patton and Senate Democrats about the proposed map for the Senate.
Earlier in the day, a judge had indefinitely extended Tuesday's filing deadline for legislative and congressional seats in this year's elections. That made some of the 40 House Democrats who were unopposed worry that someone might file against them.
''There's quite a bit of concern about that, holding it open further and more or less inviting people to file,'' said Rep. J.R. Gray, D-Benton, who is unopposed.
Some unopposed Democrats said the extension didn't worry them because anyone who hadn't filed by Tuesday would be unlikely to file now. But state Republican Chairman Ellen Williams said Republicans were recruiting more challengers as a result of the controversy.
''We're going to work it to our advantage,'' Williams said.
There also was concern that if the compromise failed and the issue went to court, judges would not adopt the map that House Democrats had drawn because it would split too many counties and violate the federal Voting Rights Act by not creating a third black-majority district in Louisville. The compromise would create such a district.
''I think both those concerns were significant,'' said Democratic Rep. Tom Kerr of Taylor Mill, Sen. Kerr's brother-in-law. ''More than anything, most of the members want to get this over with and do the business the people sent us here for.''
Many House Democrats said they were tired of dealing with the issue.
''We've been consumed here on this issue for three or more weeks, and it's time to stop,'' Stumbo said to applause from the House yesterday.
In an interview, Stumbo said only 14 of the 66 House Democrats voted in their closed caucus to stick with the compromise Tuesday night, but ''I think there were more'' who felt that way but voted to side with the Senate and Patton.
''I think a lot of members thought that's what we wanted them to do,'' he said.
Clark said in an interview that House Democratic leaders tried to renegotiate the compromise with Senate Republican leaders, but ''there wasn't any movement. We feel like it's time to get on with other public policy.''
Gov. Paul Patton and House Democrats blocked passage of compromise redistricting legislation yesterday, largely in the interests of the Democratic minority in the Senate.
Democrats asked to reopen negotiations, but Republicans refused last night, saying courts can draw the districts.
Earlier in the day, a judge indefinitely extended yesterday's candidate filing deadline for legislative and congressional seats because new, population-balanced districts hadn't been enacted by the 4 p.m. deadline.
Patton's strongest objection was to the compromise's plan to set a filing deadline of midnight last night, a few hours after Senate Republican and House Democratic leaders had planned to pass the compromise and give it to Patton to sign.
But Patton also said he had other objections. He declined to discuss them. ''I would not sign the bill that I saw,'' he said.
Senate President David Williams said Republicans would not reopen negotiations because they had granted all of House Democrats' initial requests for legislative districts.
''It's a travesty what they've done today. It's a disgrace,'' Williams, R-Burkesville, said. ''I'm ashamed of them. As far as I'm concerned, the issue is over. A court can decide.''
Williams said House Democrats would be the losers in court because their plan did not create a third African-Americanmajority district in Louisville, as the compromise would do. He said the Senate allowed Democrats to draw lines to create the third black district.
The congressional district compromise would allow Republican 3rd District Rep. Anne Northup to enlarge her district by picking the precincts she wants in Jefferson County rather than by adding Oldham County to the district as she had asked, said Senate GOP Floor Leader Dan Kelly.
And the House districts compromise ended up with veteran Rep. Bob Heleringer, R-Eastwood, saying he won't seek re-election.
The midnight filing deadline in the compromise probably wouldn't have mattered, since Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham yesterday extended the deadline indefinitely.
But in an interview with The Courier-Journal, Patton was emphatic about the issue. ''There is one thing that I will not do, and that is deprive the people of the right to file,'' Patton said, slamming his fist on the door of his car as he left the Capitol grounds.
Patton said people who may have been put in a different district should get ''a reasonable opportunity to decide to run'' in that district. He declined to say what would be a reasonable time.
Patton's refusal to sign the compromise created a dilemma for legislators, who generally dislike the idea of giving potential opponents more opportunity or motivation to file against them.
As long as no redistricting bill becomes law and Graham does not dissolve his order, filing remains open. The legislature could pass redistricting over Patton's opposition, but it wouldn't become law for 10 days -- excluding Sundays -- if he refused to sign it.
House Democratic Floor Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman David Boswell of Owensboro said Patton agreed with Senate Democrats' objections to three parts of the compromise. They would:
Put Democratic Sens. Ed Miller of Cynthiana and R.J. Palmer II in the same district, while creating nearby districts without incumbents.
Remove heavily Democratic Franklin County from the district of Sen. Marshall Long, D-Shelbyville, and add Bullitt County, a move that helped Long draw opposition yesterday from Rep. Gary Tapp, R-Shelbyville.
Put Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, DHazard, in an even-numbered district, forcing him to run this year, in the middle of his four-year term.
The treatment of Mongiardo is ''an abuse of justice,'' House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said after House Democrats met privately for more than 90 minutes last night, part of the time with Senate Democrats.
Stumbo said Senate Democrats made ''a very good case'' for opposing parts of the compromise. Combined with their complaints and the governor's stance, House Democrats' support for continued fighting on those issues was ''overwhelming,'' he said.
With that, the House and Senate called it a night. Earlier in the day, some Senate Democrats groused privately that the House had largely abandoned their interests.
Other provisions of the compromise that Senate Democrats objected to would:
Give Senate Democratic Leader David Karem and Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, both of Louisville, almost entirely new districts. Karem's district would be a ''minority influence'' district, with an African-American population of about 35 percent, stretching from Newburg to central Louisville.
Reduce the share of the AfricanAmerican population in the district of Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, the only black senator, below the 60 percent threshold that is generally accepted as making election of an African American likely.
Give an almost entirely new district to Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville, one of two former Democrats whose party switches gave Republicans control of the Senate, and keep out of that district Democrat Virginia Woodward, who has been running against Seum for months. Seum has acknowledged wanting Woodward out of his district.
Senate Democrats said last night that Democrats would ask Republicans to put Woodward in Seum's district and renegotiate the matters that drew Patton's objections.
But Williams said Democrats ''need a lesson in math'' because they have 18 senators and Republicans have 20.
Karem -- a legislator for 30 years -- said the compromise was ''much more punitive than anything I've seen in my experience here.''
Under the compromise, Mongiardo would no longer be put in a Republican district with Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and freshman Democratic Sens. Ray Jones II of Pikeville and Johnny Ray Turner of Drift in Floyd County would no longer be in the same district.
But Democrats said Jones would lose his native Letcher County and pick up two Republican counties, Johnson and Martin.
The compromise would also create a third black-majority district in Louisville, represented by white Democratic Rep. Tom Riner, who has said he would welcome the creation of such a district.
Two incumbents must be paired in a Jefferson County House district because the county did not gain population as fast as the rest of the state and must lose one of its 18 House seats.
The original House plan would have paired Republican Reps. Ron Crimm of Middletown and Heleringer. Republicans objected, and even some Democrats had reservations. So as negotiations neared what lawmakers thought was the end yesterday, the plan was to put freshman Rep. Scott Brinkman, RLouisville, in the district with Riner.
But to prevent that, Heleringer, a 22-year House veteran, said he would not seek re-election after all. That appeared to clear the next-to-last obstacle, the final one being the filing deadline. There was some sentiment to make it 24 or 48 hours after the bill becomes law, but Patton's objections put other issues back in play.
Veteran Rep. Bob Heleringer's decision yesterday not to seek re-election, made to help resolve the General Assembly's redistricting impasse, stunned his colleagues.
''It's going to be a real hole in our delegation,'' said Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville and chairwoman of the Jefferson County delegation. ''As a legislator he is so well-respected.''
The eastern Jefferson County Republican left Frankfort early and couldn't be reached. He had previously expressed an interest in running for the new Greater Louisville metro council, but he did not file before yesterday's deadline.
During 21 years in the legislature, Heleringer developed a reputation as a compassionate lawmaker and a champion for disabled Kentuckians and the mentally ill and retarded.
Rep. Steve Nunn, R-Glasgow, who frequently sides with Heleringer on human-service issues, said Heleringer speaks up for ''the people least able to be heard.''
Nunn, who is planning to run for governor in 2003, said he has talked to Heleringer about being his running mate. Nunn said Heleringer could help him in Jefferson County and with social conservatives.
One of the few Republicans to publicly oppose the death penalty, Heleringer, a Roman Catholic, opposes abortion as well, saying to do otherwise would be morally inconsistent.
''He's not only a political leader, he's a moral leader,'' said the Rev. Patrick Delahanty, a policy analyst with the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and a leader of the anti-deathpenalty movement in Kentucky.
''It's a real disappointment to us,'' said Jane Chiles, executive director of the Catholic Conference, who said Heleringer was a passionate supporter of the disadvantaged.
Over the years, Heleringer has developed a reputation as an outspoken and sharp-witted lawmaker with little patience for bickering and indecision. His apparent frustration with the ongoing redistricting squabble boiled over last week in a speech on the House floor in which he told his colleagues that few people other than lawmakers care about how legislative district lines are drawn.
In the speech Wednesday, which drew a standing ovation, he reminded lawmakers that Kentuckians are confronted by more basic issues of human needs. He derided any description of himself as a ''victim'' of redistricting because he might have had to run against fellow GOP incumbent Ron Crimm.
True victims include those who died in the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11 and military personnel who died defending U.S. freedom, Heleringer said.
Sheila Schuster, executive director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, said Heleringer used his seats on the House health and welfare and budget committees to press for funding for human services and to work for the disadvantaged.
''What a loss,'' Schuster said. ''He has spoken up for the disabled population more eloquently over the years than any other legislator.''
Republican Oldham County would be added to GOP Rep. Anne Northup's 3rd Congressional District under a redistricting plan passed by the state Senate yesterday.
Democrats want to keep the district inside Jefferson County and make Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield's 1st District more Democratic by giving it the Owensboro area, which Republicans oppose. The Democrats' plan, however, has yet to pass the House.
The Republican plan is a refined version of one drawn last year by the five Kentucky Republicans in the U.S. House. Democratic Rep. Ken Lucas of the 4th District, in which Oldham County now lies, did not object to it.
Oldham County should be in the 3rd District because most of its workers are employed in Jefferson County and have more in common with it than with the rest of the 4th District, the western end of which Oldham now forms, state Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, said in an interview.
But Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, told the Senate that the move would undermine Jefferson County's 2000 vote to merge the county government with that of Louisville.
''It is so ironic that after years of turmoil, if not outright warfare, among the different communities in Jefferson County, that my community has finally come together in a unified local government that is going to make sure the entire community is on equal grounding. Yet today this body has disenfranchised that community,'' Shaughnessy said.
Democrats would expand the 3rd District to most of the outer rim of Jefferson County now represented by Republican 2nd District Rep. Ron Lewis. Adding Oldham County, which reliably votes Republican in federal elections, would give Northup more help in her race with Democrat Jack Conway.
The 3rd District must grow because it has less than the ideal population.
The largest variance in the only active Democratic plan is seven people. It was approved by a House committee weeks ago, but the House has not voted on it because its Democratic leaders disagree about it.
House Majority Floor Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg said it puts too many Republicans into the 5th District, where he and U.S. Rep. Harold ''Hal'' Rogers of Somerset live.
Stumbo is on good terms with Rogers, the chief drafter of the Republican plan, and has been mentioned as a possible successor to Rogers if the congressman is elected governor next year.
The Republican plan was a full replacement of the original version of Senate Bill 65, which would have allowed school boards to hire members' relatives for part-time work. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, said in an interview that the original version was merely a disguised vehicle.
The legislative maneuver was performed in a special meeting of the Senate Committee on State and Local Government, at which Democrats complained there was no time for testimony by citizens or officials.
''You're doing something, to me, very, very wrong to Jefferson County just to appease the congressional delegation,'' said Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington.
Scorsone told the full Senate that the Democratic plan offers more compact, rational districts, while Republicans would run the 1st District from the Mississippi River to within 50 miles of Lexington. In fact, it would be only 37 miles away.
Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, another possible successor to Rogers, noted that the district layout ''is not that much different'' from what Democrats drew in 1991, when thenkey Democrats opposed Owensboro's addition to the 1st and the district got some Southern Kentucky counties instead.
On the 21-17 floor vote, one Democrat voted for the Republican plan. Sen. Ed Worley of Richmond said he favored it because it would not put Garrard and Lincoln counties in the 2nd District, as Democrats proposed.
If the Senate and House are unable to agree on a redistricting plan, courts would ultimately have to decide the issue.
African-Americans would have more chance for a voice in Kentucky's General Assembly under two plans proposed for new legislative districts.
And they have Republicans to thank.
The redistricting plans for Kentucky's House and Senate seats that maximize minority representation were offered up by the GOP, not exactly the party minorities have favored over the years. The Senate GOP plan, which no one but select Republicans had seen before it was voted on Thursday, retains one Jefferson County district with a majority black population and creates a new one with a substantial black population.
The Republican House plan creates several minority-dominated districts. It drew support from two of the four black representatives in the House - both Democrats - but was ultimately passed over in favor of the Democratic leadership's map.
Senate Republicans said Thursday their primary goal in drawing the Senate districts was to ensure minorities get the full voice they deserve.
Through all the rancor that has surrounded redistricting in the three weeks the 2002 General Assembly has been in session - not to mention all the months preceding it - Senate Republican Floor Leader Dan Kelly said what has been missing in the discussion is whether the plans will help black voters get more representation.
''That is the issue,'' Kelly, R-Springfield, said. ''And I think it's the most important issue.''
Democrats, though, aren't buying the GOP's newfound concern for minority representation. It's a ruse, they say. ''Political theater,'' Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal, the state's only black senator, called it. ''From the Republican standpoint, it's exploitation.''
Neal questioned the GOP's sincerity in the issue, asking where they've been when he's stood on the floor and begged for votes on issues important to African-Americans. Since the majority in the state Senate switched to Republicans two years ago, most votes are made strictly along party lines.
Like the rest of the Democrats, Neal has seen his bills die at the hands of partisanship. (To be fair, the same thing happens to Republican-backed legislation in the House, where Democrats hold the majority.)
But members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who testified to the legislature on redistricting say they don't care who sponsors the bill as long as minorities get their due.
''Our goal is to have one majority (African-American) district and one influence district,'' said longtime Democrat Raoul Cunningham, coordinator of voter empowerment for the NAACP.
The Republican map accomplishes that. The Democrat's map didn't.
The plans for new House and Senate districts offered by Democrats drew fire from the NAACP for not being sensitive to blacks. Cunningham and others from the NAACP asked the House committee that considered the bill to rethink how the districts were drawn.
Since the Republican's House bill failed, the bill by Senate Republicans was the last hope of getting districts geared toward blacks.
To make up for their lack of sensitivity to minority representation - or perhaps to expose what they think is the Republicans' true motivation - Senate Democrats on Friday offered an amendment to the bill that redrew the districts to make one minority majority district and one influence district.
''Here's the test,'' Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, said, challenging Republicans to vote for his floor amendment. ''If the issue is minority representation, this floor amendment accomplishes it. Are we playing games? Or are we serious about minority representation.''
Republicans, predictably, rejected the amendment on a 20-18, strict party-line vote.
''I'm afraid what the Republicans are trying to do, they are trying to hide under the banner of civil rights to get away with a lot of mischief,'' Scorsone said.
Cunningham said he didn't think Republicans were being disingenuous in touting minority-dominated districts. To help his cause, he said he work with anyone willing to listen.
''In civil rights, we have learned there are no permanent allies and no permanent enemies,'' Cunningham said. ''That's how we've survived.''
Senate Republicans revealed and quickly advanced their own redistricting bill yesterday, a plan that would hurt Democrats politically but improve African Americans' chances of election to the legislature.
The plan, approved on a partyline vote after a bitter debate in the Senate State and Local Government Committee, is scheduled for a floor vote this morning as a substitute for the House-passed Democratic redistricting bill.
Leaders of the Senate's Republican majority said they're moving quickly to set up a weekend conference with the House in hopes of ending a months-long redistricting impasse before Tuesday's candidate-filing deadline for legislative elections.
Meanwhile in court yesterday, U.S. District Judge Joe Hood urged legislators to redistrict by Tuesday but suggested the issue ultimately will be settled in court. Hood denied a request by former state Republican chairman Robert Gable to extend the filing deadline. A Republican-backed lawsuit seeking the court's intervention contends that lawmakers are unlikely to reach an agreement by Tuesday.
The long-awaited Republican redistricting bill includes four districts with two senators each and four districts with no incumbent senator.
Two of the districts with pairs of senators have two Democratic incumbents -- Ed Miller of Cynthiana and R.J. Palmer II of Winchester, and Ray Jones of Pikeville and Johnny Ray Turner of Drift in Floyd County.
Democrat Daniel Mongiardo of Hazard and Republican Robert Stivers of Manchester are paired in a strongly Republican district, and Republican Sens. Lindy Casebier and Dan Seum of Louisville are paired. But Casebier said yesterday that he won't seek re-election when his term ends in 2004.
The Republican plan also would put Democrat Virginia Woodward, who has filed to run against Seum this year, in a different district. The Democratic plan puts Woodward in Seum's district.
The GOP plan laid out only Senate districts. It adopts the Democratic plan for House districts, reflecting the contention by Senate Republicans that each chamber should draw its own districts, which was the practice when Democrats controlled both chambers.
But Senate President David Williams said a floor amendment has been filed to redraw House districts in Jefferson County in ways that would create a third black-majority district and a ''minority-influence'' district with a large black population in the Newburg area.
Republicans and representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, including former Sen. Georgia Powers of Louisville, argued that the federal Voting Rights Act calls for such a plan and for creation of a minorityinfluence Senate district stretching from central Louisville to Newburg. The GOP plan does that and extends the district northeast to take in Democratic Floor Leader David Karem.
''Whether or not we comply with the Voting Rights Act is the most important issue we will address,'' Republican Floor Leader Dan Kelly told the committee.
But Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, said he had been unable to find a Supreme Court case saying the Voting Rights Act requires creation of minority-influence districts.
Raoul Cunningham, the NAACP's state voter-empowerment director, said the legislature has illegally packed African Americans in Louisville into two black-majority districts and illegally divided those in Newburg among several districts ''to create safe districts for incumbents, which severely diluted our vote.''
Democrats didn't dispute the contention that the law requires a third black-majority House district in Louisville, but they accused Republicans of selectively adopting AfricanAmerican concerns to advance their political agenda.
The senate's only African American, Democrat Gerald Neal of Louisville, told the full Senate that he resented Republicans taking advantage of black concerns, given the two parties' record on minority issues.
Kelly said Neal seemed to be saying that Republicans shouldn't be able to use the argument simply because it advances their interests. Williams told reporters that Republicans simply want to comply with the federal law.
Cunningham said all major civilrights legislation has passed with bipartisan support and that ''no one party should be able to claim African-American votes -- or take us for granted.''
The fast-approaching filing deadline creates a potential problem for early-filing candidates who could find themselves in a different district if lines are drawn after the deadline.
New districts probably would help Republicans because the 2000 census generally showed the greatest population gains in GOP-voting areas. Alternatively, if this year's elections are conducted using current district lines, Democrats hoping to regain control of the Senate would benefit.
Democrats have targeted Seum in particular, putting Woodward in his district. Seum is one of the two former Democrats whose party switches gave control of the Senate to Republicans.
Seum, who now represents a district dominated by South Louisville, would keep only his home precinct and otherwise get an entirely new district in the Republican plan. The district would extend from southwest Jefferson County to part of the border with Spencer County. Most of that area, and Bullitt County, are now represented by Casebier.
Bullitt County would be in a district with Spencer and Shelby counties, now represented by Senate Democratic Whip Marshall Long of Shelbyville. Long's district would become much less Democratic because it would lose Franklin County, which would be joined with Anderson and Woodford counties and part of Fayette County in a politically competitive district with no incumbent.
Other districts without incumbents would be created for Scott, Owen and Grant counties and a large part of Kenton County; Boyd, Lawrence, Johnson and Martin counties; and Bell, Harlan, Letcher and Knott counties. All three appear to be politically competitive.
Williams said before the legislative session began Jan. 8 that Republicans had drawn a plan that put no incumbents together -- but he warned that the GOP would not be so generous unless Democrats came to an agreement. The deal apparently died over the issue of Seum's district.
''If someone switches parties, they should have to face the voters they hoodwinked,'' Sen. Walter Blevins, D-West Liberty, told the committee yesterday.
But Williams said the chance ''for the level of bipartisanship we would have desired passed.''
At yesterday's court hearing, Hood, in denying the request to extend the filing deadline, said a similar lawsuit filed by Republicans in state court has resulted in ''a viable, ongoing state court proceeding.'' The judge in that case, William Graham of Frankfort, has been out of town for two weeks and is not expected back until next week.
Hood also denied a motion by the suit's defendants, which include Gov. Paul Patton and Attorney General Ben Chandler, to move the federal case to Owensboro, where Republicans dropped an earlier suit after Judge Joseph McKinley declined to act on it.
Hood suggested that the redistricting issue ultimately would be decided by a three-judge panel appointed by the chief judge of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Boyce Martin of Louisville.
''I can't predict many things, but I can predict Judge McKinley and I are going to be on that three-judge panel and I'd bet the farm on it,'' Hood said.
Referring to animosity among legislators over redistricting, Hood said, ''Catfights sometimes produce nice cats.''
Northern Kentucky would get another seat in the state Senate under the GOP's plan for new legislative boundaries.
The Republican map, unveiled Thursday then approved less than two hours later by the Senate State Government Committee, splits Kenton County into three different Senate districts.
Currently, the county is divided between two districts - one represented by Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Erlanger, and the other by Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park.
A new seat would give Northern Kentucky more influence in the state legislature, a goal of the region's Senate delegation.
''Northern Kentucky needs to have more voice and deserves to have more voice in Frankfort because of our population growth,'' said Roeding, who is president pro tem of the chamber.
The new district, District 7, comprises the southern third of Kenton County and runs south to pick up Grant, Owen and Scott counties. No incumbent lives in that area, and the seat isn't up for re-election until 2004.
The entire Senate was scheduled to vote on the Republican plan today. With a 20-18 Republican majority, it was expected to pass.
The Republican plan moves Roeding's mostly-Boone County 11th District west into Gallatin County and drops some of his Kenton County precincts.
Westwood's 23rd District, which is in Kenton County, would instead be reduced in size to include only the northern portion of the county.
The 24th District, which includes Campbell and Pendleton counties and is represented by Sen. Katie Stine, R-Fort Thomas, would be largely unchanged.
The Senate version of the bill accepts intact the redistricting plan for House seats passed by the Democratic-controlled House on Wednesday, which does not create as many minority districts as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has requested. In the Senate, the bill would retain one district with a black majority, as now exists, and create another district with a substantial black population.
Redistricting has riveted the General Assembly session since even before it began. GOP interests went to court, where they have been unable to get either a state or federal judge to intervene.
The legislature must draw new boundaries for districts for population changes from the 2000 census.
In the Senate plan, two redrawn Senate districts ould include two Democratic incumbents. Two Republicans would be in the same district. A freshman Democrat would be placed in a district with a Republican. And four new districts, including the one in Northern Kentucky, would be created with no incumbent.
Democrats Ed Miller of Cynthiana and R. J. Palmer of Winchester would be placed into a district up for election this year. Palmer won a special election late last year.
The House passed its long-awaited plan to redistrict the state House and Senate yesterday and sent the bill to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
The way districts are drawn and the fact that the House broke with tradition and proposed a Senate redistricting plan have been at the center of a battle between the two parties and two chambers that has compromised civility in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans said they would offer their redistricting proposals at a legislative committee meeting this morning. They said they plan to rework the House bill and could hold a vote on it in the full Senate tomorrow.
Minutes before the House took up its bill, the Senate passed legislation that would delay Tuesday's candidate-filing deadline for state and federal elections until after redistricting has been completed.
That bill is expected to have a difficult time in the House, as some Democrats, including Majority Leader Greg Stumbo, have said they would prefer to run this year's elections in the existing, unconstitutional districts and to remap the state before the 2004 election cycle.
The House Democratic plan passed yesterday on a partyline vote. Republicans complained that the bill was partisan and pitted Republicans in the House against one another in two districts and stretches other GOP districts over long distances.
They argued that the Democratic plan is unconstitutional because it splits more counties than necessary. The Republicans also contended that the Democrats' bill does not try to empower African-American voters, as required by federal voting-rights law.
House Republicans presented a plan drawn up by Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, that would have split the minimum number of counties and would have increased the number of districts in which African Americans comprised 35 percent or more of the population. But it would have had Democratic incumbents running against each other in two districts and forced another Democrat incumbent to run in a largely Republican area.
Also, the Republicans called on Democrats to delete their Senate redistricting plans from the bill and allow the Republicans in the Senate to do that work themselves.
Democrats, however, argued that their plan is constitutional. And while it does split more counties than the optimum number, they say they drew the lines that way in an effort to give districts some continuity in their representation.
Stumbo said the plan was fair to Republicans -- in fact, a number have said the plan didn't hurt their chances for re-election -- and he bristled at the suggestion by Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover that Republicans were more responsive to the needs of black people.
''Two hundred years of political history in this country tell you otherwise,'' he said.
And Stumbo argued that it was proper for the House to propose a plan for the Senate in an attempt to ensure that Sen. Dan Seum, a former Democrat whose defection gave Republicans a Senate majority for the first time in the state's history, would face the same voters who elected him in 1998 as a Democrat.
As for lumping Republican incumbents together in Jefferson County and Eastern Kentucky, Stumbo said that had to be done because the two areas lost population relative to the rest of the state and had to give up a legislator.
''There's going to be some unfortunate circumstances in every redistricting bill,'' he said.
Rep. Howard Cornett, R-Whitesburg, who will have to run in an overwhelmingly Democratic area if the Democrats' bill passes, threatened political revenge against Democratic leaders. Those could include House Speaker Jody Richards, who wants to be governor, and Stumbo, who might run for attorney general.
''I probably won't be back, and that's OK. I understand that some of you in leadership are running for statewide office and will have to come to Letcher County. And I'll be waiting,'' he said.
The only brief respite from the partisan bickering came from Rep. Bob Heleringer, R-Eastwood, who has been in the House since 1980 and would have to face GOP Rep. Ron Crimm if he wants to remain in the legislature. Crimm has been in the House since 1997.
During a floor speech, Heleringer called on legislators to get beyond the redistricting battle and begin to do the people's work. And he complimented Democratic Gov. Paul Patton for his budget speech Tuesday, in which the governor talked about serving the needs of the handicapped, the mentally ill, children with autism and others in need.
''I've never voted for him, but I thought about carrying him out on my shoulders,'' he said.
Also, Heleringer took issue with newspaper reports that called him a ''victim'' of redistricting, and he tried to put the redistricting clash into some kind of perspective.
''My definition of a victim is a husband and wife who held hands on Sept. 11 and jumped off the 90th floor of the World Trade Center. My definition of a victim is Ronnie Gamboa, a 1986 graduate of my high school in Louisville -- Trinity High School -- who was a passenger on'' United Flight 175. ''Killed with his companion'' and his 3-year-old son.
''My definition of a victim is the military personnel, brave people who paid the full price for protecting our freedom.''
Democrats and Republicans alike gave him a standing ovation.
Despite Heleringer's words, every vote on the issue yesterday was decided on almost straight partisan lines.
The only Democrats to side with Republicans on Fischer's redistricting plan were Paul Bather, Reginald Meeks and Tom Riner, all Louisville representatives with large black populations in their districts.
On the issue of forsaking the Senate redistricting plan, a handful of Democrats supported the amendment -- but not nearly enough to overcome the 64-36 Democratic majority.
The bill passed, with Reps. Larry Belcher of Shepherdsville and Phillip Childers of Garner the only Democrats to break ranks.
The redistricting plan, House Bill 1, was then sent to the Senate.
A week away from the filing deadline for this year's elections, Democrats advanced a new plan for redrawing House districts and Republicans filed a new lawsuit to end an impasse over the issue and postpone the deadline.
Democrats' new plan, approved in a House committee, would put 27 counties in more than one House district. That is four more than the state Supreme Court has indicated it would allow, and one more than in the first Democratic plan.
The House plans to vote tomorrow on the plan, which would also draw new districts for the Republican-controlled Senate -- posing a major obstacle to an agreement before Tuesday's filing deadline. The Senate has waited for the House to act on redistricting.
Chances that the legislature would postpone the deadline faded somewhat yesterday, as some Democratic leaders frowned on the idea. If redistricting is not completed by Tuesday, it becomes more likely that this year's elections will be held in the current districts, which are based on 1990 census figures.
Republicans say that would violate the constitutional guarantee of ''one person, one vote.'' They are trying to get new districts for this year's elections to take advantage of the 2000 census, which generally recorded greater population gains in areas that tend to vote Republican.
To force action before the deadline, former state Republican chairman Robert Gable filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Frankfort yesterday, asking Judge Joe Hood for a temporary restraining order to suspend the deadline. Hood scheduled a hearing for 1 p.m. tomorrow.
House Speaker Jody Richards, DBowling Green, said last week that he was willing to postpone the filing deadline to give potential candidates time to consider new district lines, but he backed away from that yesterday. And Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said the deadline should not be moved.
Clark spoke during a meeting of the House State Government Committee, which approved a substitute version of House Bill 1. The bill corrects some population deviations that raised questions about the original version, but it does so by drawing some unusually shaped districts and splitting an additional county.
The plan would divide tiny Spencer County among three districts. It would divide Harlan among four, and Letcher, Rowan, Wolfe and Trigg among two each. None of those counties has enough population to form a district on its own, and the state Supreme Court has ruled that such counties can't be split, with some specific exceptions, including Harlan and Trigg.
As the old plan did, the new one puts Republican Reps. Ron Crimm of Middletown and Bob Heleringer of Eastwood in the same district. Jefferson County is losing one of its 18 House seats because it didn't gain population as fast as other areas.
While the new plan puts four incumbents together in Eastern Kentucky, it would create a district in the region without an incumbent, covering Estill, Lee and Breathitt counties. Other districts without incumbents would be created in Fayette County and in Carroll, Henry and Trimble counties and part of Oldham County.
To make the smallest and largest districts' populations within 10 percent of each other, as courts have directed, the plan draws some unusual lines. The district of Rep. Dwight Butler, R-Harned, would snake through Hardin County to pick up much of Bullitt County.
Butler said his district already covers a wide swath in rural Breckinridge and Ohio counties and he was surprised to learn it would stretch for more than 100 miles from Daviess County to eastern Bullitt County.
He said he planned to oppose the redistricting plan, ''but if I get that district, I'll run in it and I'll represent the people.''
Republicans filed a plan that would split the minimum 23 counties and create a third Jefferson County district with a significant black population, as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has asked.
The NAACP's state voterempowerment coordinator, Raoul Cunningham, said Democrats divide African Americans among many districts to give them victory margins.
''African Americans are the only base vote that the Democratic Party has and for them to continue to treat us like this is just unbelievable,'' Cunningham said.
The lawsuit filed yesterday at Frankfort, in the state's eastern federal court district, is much like one that Republicans filed in federal court in the western district last month but then withdrew.
Democrats accused Republicans of forum-shopping. But Gable said in an interview that the first suit was withdrawn because of ''mutterings'' that the House might not try to draw a Senate plan after all.
It appears likely the General Assembly will have to postpone the Jan. 29 filing deadline for candidates seeking legislative and congressional seats this year because of a delay in approving redistricting.
A later filing deadline would give voters less time to learn about who's running if the May 28 primary date isn't moved back. And without new district lines to guide them, potential candidates will be hampered in making campaign plans.
But Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Jody Richards, who agreed yesterday that a filing deadline delay is probable, also said they don't see it as a major problem. They said the Jan. 29 deadline would remain for candidates seeking local offices.
Richards said difficulties ironing out details of the House's legislative redistricting bill apparently will force the delay.
Williams said he favors moving the filing deadline to a date after the legislative session ends. Senate Republicans have submitted a bill to delay the deadline until April 16, the day after the session ends, and to delay the primary until June 18. Williams, a Burkesville Republican, said the filing deadline delay would make controversial measures less likely to pass. Legislators are more willing to vote for something controversial if they know, after Jan. 29, that they have no opponent or a weak opponent.
Richards, D-Bowling Green, said a delay of a few weeks should have no impact on candidates. ''If people want to run for the legislature, they are going to be following this process. And they're going to have some idea in most cases where they are going to be running,'' he said.
Williams repeated yesterday that the Senate's Republican majority wanted redistricting completed during a special session last fall that was never called.
Now that the regular session has started, he said, ''The sentiment in the Senate will be to extend the filing deadline. I'm willing to agree to that today.''
Richards, meantime, indicated the House might take extraordinary action to get the legislative redistricting bill out of its State Government Committee next Tuesday and to the floor for a vote later the same day.
But even if quick action is taken, the bill -- which includes new districts for both the House and Senate -- is certain to be amended by the Senate, which has yet to file its own redistricting bill.
Williams said if the House proceeds with a legislative redistricting plan that includes Senate districts, the matter will likely go to a conference committee. If that happens, or if the final bill is vetoed by Gov. Paul Patton, final action is sure to be delayed far beyond Jan. 29, he said.
Meanwhile, House Republicans offered their own House redistricting plan yesterday. House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown said the plan is much closer than the Democratic plan to meeting court guidelines.
Hoover said the GOP plan splits only 23 counties, the maximum number that courts have ruled can be split, compared with 26 splits in the Democrats' plan. The GOP plan also keeps district populations within 5 percent of the ideal size and increases the chances of electing African Americans to the House, he said.
The Democratic plan had nine districts outside the 5 percent range, but Democrats have said that problem will be corrected. Their bill has been in committee for more than a week to iron out details.
The GOP plan would potentially pit six incumbents -- five of them Democrats -- in districts against each other. The Democratic plan would put four Republicans in districts with each other.
Hoover said the GOP caucus grew tired of waiting for action and felt obliged to offer an alternative. But because Republicans hold only 34 of the 100 House seats, their plan is unlikely to pass.
House Republicans on Friday offered up their own map for new legislative district boundaries, saying it's a constitutional plan they hope Democratic leaders can use as a model.
''We introduced this bill, basically, to move the process forward to give an idea and a framework to the Democratic majority,'' said Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, the author of the map.
Legislative district boundaries must be drawn every 10 years to adjust for shifts in the population and ensure each vote counts the same as the next.
The Republicans' map splits three fewer counties than the one the Democrats proposed last week, a sticking point for Fischer, who challenged the last redistricting map that was drawn in 1990, before he was elected. It also includes more minority-heavy districts and adheres to the population deviations for districts as required by law, Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover said.
The Democrats introduced a plan for new districts last week that splits 26 counties and has population deviations of more than 5 percent. Democrats say they are working on a substitute plan that would work out all the kinks.
No substitute has been made public yet.
Republicans said their map is less politically driven than the Democrats', which redraws districts so that two sets of incumbent Republicans are in the same district.
The Republican plan groups three sets of incumbents into districts - five Democrats and one Republican. In one set of grouped incumbents, a legislator has already said he doesn't plan to run for office again.
The House Republican plan for Northern Kentucky is the same as the Democrats' plan.
''It's basically the same,'' Fischer said. ''I think all the members of the Northern Kentucky delegation should be satisfied.''
Republicans hold 34 of the 100 state House seats, meaning it's un likely that their bill could pass in place of the Democrats'.
But, Fischer said, ''at least I hope it will offer a constitutional framework for which the majority party can adapt a plan.''