"Remarks spark Senate squabble." January 18, 2002
A General Assembly fractured by a fight over redistricting could face a more serious schism today, following a threatened sanction of a Democratic senator over remarks made on the Senate floor.
The Senate erupted yesterday after President David Williams, R-Burkesville, ordered Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, to ''take your seat and remain silent'' and threatened to censure him for statements he made on the floor.
The incident touched off some of the most intense partisan squabbling the Senate has seen in decades and could ultimately mean the first Senate censure in at least 30 years. Officials last night were still researching exactly what Senate censure is and how it might be carried out.
The row came after Scorsone likened a lecture by Republican Floor Leader Dan Kelly on bipartisanship to a lesson on ethics by officials at Enron and its accounting firm, which are embroiled in scandal.
Yesterday's events showed that an already fractured relationship between the two parties -- irritated by an ongoing battle over redistricting -- has worsened during the two weeks of the 2002 General Assembly.
Some said yesterday that they were concerned about whether any bills of substance could now pass the legislature, given the mood in the Senate.
Williams said Scorsone had accused GOP senators of unethical and even criminal activity. Scorsone, on the other hand, said Williams was trying to muzzle him and other Democrats, and said his statements were normal political discourse.
Scorsone refused to apologize or withdraw his remarks, and Williams said he will decide this morning whether to censure Scorsone or allow the matter to drop.
Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, D-Hazard, told Democrats that they cannot give in to Williams and that he is willing to give up his entire agenda in order to fight for Scorsone's right to speak -- as well as his own.
Scorsone's words that offended Williams chided Republicans for lecturing Democrats on bipartisanship when he said Republicans are at fault for the bickering.
''A sharper irony would have been if officials from Enron and Arthur Andersen would have been here giving a workshop on ethics,'' Scorsone said just before Williams angrily called him down and threatened him with censure.
When given an opportunity later to defend himself on the floor, Scorsone said, ''I find it quite interesting that I have to defend these words of parody and criticism and allegory and metaphor in this body. My goodness, where's our memory?'' He added that one member, Williams, last year implied that Senate Democrats were ''being some sort of slithering animals.''
Williams claimed that Scorsone had compared some senators ''to people in Enron and other organizations and accuse(d) them of criminal activity.'' And he ordered Scorsone to ''reduce your words to writing'' and to present them to the clerk of the Senate, incorrectly saying that a Senate rule required Scorsone to do so.
''This is not a classroom. If there are not rules requiring me to reduce my words to writing, I'm not going to do it,'' Scorsone said.
Williams, who became visibly angry, told Scorsone several times to sit down and be quiet. And he ordered that Scorsone not speak until the Senate clerk could transcribe an audio tape and read his ''offending words'' to the entire chamber.
Senate Democrats immediately challenged Williams' ruling. But a vote to block any action by Williams failed on a party-line vote.
Democratic Floor Leader David Karem immediately asked for a 10minute recess, and Democrats left the floor to determine their next move.
''I think something very serious has happened here,'' said Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, as he stood waiting for his colleagues to huddle.
''This is the first time in my 31 years that I have seen anything vaguely like this happen,'' Karem told the group.
The mood in the Senate was as tense as at any time since the day in 1997 when Republicans sided with five renegade Democrats to wrest control of the chamber from the Democratic majority.
Since then, the relationship between the two sides has worsened, and that deterioration picked up speed after Republicans gained a clear majority in the chamber in 2000.
Tony Sholar, a lobbyist for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said the current relationship in the Senate makes it doubtful that anything of substance can be accomplished this year as Republicans and Democrats fight partisan squabbles.
''It's really a double-edged sword,'' he said. ''It's good news for some folks who are up here who are trying to stop things from happening, but it's bad news for those who have some good things they want to see done.''
Sholar said the real issues could get lost in the bickering. ''The problem is it creates difficulties with the personalities and contentiousness with the personalities. The question is, 'Can they overcome this, and is this something that can be set aside?' '' Sholar said.
Yesterday's confrontation has been brewing since the first day of the session, when Senate Democrats pushed unsuccessfully for Republicans to continue a three-year powersharing agreement on the Senate Education Committee.
On Wednesday, the two sides again fought in the Senate Judiciary meeting over whether to allow a committee vote on a bill by Sen. Marshall Long, D-Shelbyville, that would limit telemarketers' ability to make calls to homes in the state.
It was that bill that again touched off the heated debate yesterday.
Long asked for action on a discharge petition, a procedural move intended to free his telemarketing bill from the Senate committee. Such moves are normally tried only late in the session after it becomes clear that a committee is stalling action on a measure. But Democrats have been poised for a battle.
Republicans, in turn, refused to allow the petition to be voted on and instead removed the bill from the Judiciary Committee and took the procedural step of laying the bill on the clerk's desk -- effectively killing the bill unless Democrats can persuade two Republicans to help them. The Republicans said they want to deal with a House version of the bill but only after conferring with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission about how to strengthen it.
The debate on the issue ended yesterday shortly after Scorsone rose to speak.
Williams said his problems with Scorsone have been growing in recent days, saying that Scorsone has launched personal attacks on Republicans on the Senate floor and that he was trying to restore decorum.
Specifically, he accused Scorsone of calling Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, RLexington, a ''thief'' recently.
Scorsone denied that he ever called Kerr a ''thief'' but acknowledged that he had spoken in the Senate and accused her of ''lifting'' the language from one of his bills to expand Medicaid benefits for women with breast cancer.
Kerr didn't recall if he used the word but said he had certainly implied that she was a thief. ''He talked about plagiarism and stealing bills,'' she said. ''I had been working on that same bill since last June, and it mirrors federal legislation.''
Williams said after adjourning that he would have dropped the matter if Scorsone would have taken back his words, but that ''obviously he had no regret for the comments that he made. All he would have had to have done was risen and said I meant no personal reflection on the members who had spoken as to their ethical conduct or that sort of thing.''
Scorsone called any charges against him ridiculous.
''This is absolutely innocuous language; if he can't stand a little criticism, he doesn't deserve to be in politics,'' Scorsone said. ''I think if we backed off from this statement, I think we would do damage to public discussions and what the Senate is all about.''
Legislative Research Director Robert Sherman said his office was researching Senate rules and state law on censures and punishment for members of the General Assembly.
The state constitution says the legislature shall discipline its own members and Senate rules allow for ''censure'' but don't define what it is, he said.
Former Rep. Richard Turner was censured by the House in 1996 after he pleaded guilty to violating the state's campaign-finance law. He was stripped of committee memberships.
A week after submitting a legislative redistricting plan, House Democratic leaders still are trying to revise the boundaries to make them acceptable to their Democratic colleagues and the courts.
For a second consecutive day yesterday, a House committee reviewing legislation creating new district lines adjourned without a vote because the plan is not yet final.
The problem had Republicans crowing, saying Democrats are intent on stalling the legislation and possibly delay redistricting until after this year's elections.
''The arguments they have are inside their own caucus primarily, and plus, they've got every Republican over there mad,'' said Senate President David Williams.
While House members struggled to reach a consensus, a Senate committee hearing a bill to delay the Jan. 29 candidate filing deadline got into a partisan squabble when a Democrat tried to amend the bill to include the House plan to redistrict the Senate.
The General Assembly must draw new lines so that districts are nearly equal in size, based on the 2000 census, while splitting as few counties as possible. But because of geography and county populations, at least 23 counties will have to be split.
Republicans have filed lawsuits in state and federal court asking judges to order Democrats to move forward, or for the courts to do the redistricting. So far, the courts have been reluctant to step in.
Republicans contend that the inability of House Democrats to present their bill underscores the need for court involvement.
''It's totally obvious they don't have a plan,'' said Ellen Williams, Republican state chairman. ''They threw a bunch of junk out there just to cover themselves, and it's totally unconstitutional.''
House Democrats say they're working toward filing an amendment to their original bill that would ensure that voters are equally represented and that would satisfy most Democrats.
House Speaker Jody Richards said Democrats are close to a finished plan: ''We believe everyone should be heard, and what we're going through now is letting everyone have input. We have a plan. It's out there.''
But it's still unclear when Democrats will bring up their revised plan.
While some Democrats have been unhappy with their proposed districts, House Majority Leader Greg Stumbo said the main problem was a map-drawing error that did not assign a state representative to a bloc of 3,000 Kentuckians in an area adjoining the district of Rep. Jim Thompson, D-Battletown.
The House State Government Committee met Monday to discuss the redistricting bill and waited for nearly an hour while last-minute changes were made.
Yesterday, the committee waited an hour while House leaders again worked on the amendment. Then the committee chairman, Rep. Charlie Geveden, D-Wickliffe, called for adjournment after learning the amendment still would not be completed.
Meantime, Senate Democrats accused Senate Republicans of stalling redistricting by not introducing legislation of their own.
Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, tried to substitute the Senate provisions of the House plan for Sen. Albert Robinson's Senate Bill 69, which would extend the filing deadline for candidates for state House and Senate races and congressional races to June 18.
Williams said House Democrats created the stalemate when they introduced their own plan to redistrict the Senate -- something normally left up to the Senate to do on its own.
The Republicans prevailed and advanced Robinson's bill out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
A week into the 2002 General Assembly, Democratic and Republican legislative leaders remain deeply divided on redistricting, creating a deadlock that could leave the important job of redrawing state House and Senate district maps to the courts.
The impasse emerged on Friday, when a press conference with House Speaker Jody Richards and Senate President David Williams spun out of control when the two chambers' leaders were asked about redistricting.
Williams accused Richards of using the issue to curry favor with Senate Democrats for Richards' run for governor next year. Richards said Williams was lying and at one point told Williams, "You're full of it."
The blowup came four days after an off-air incident on the Kentucky Educational Television set when the two traded jabs. Williams denies anything happened and Richards said the two were just "picking" at each other.
Two lawmakers who witnessed the exchange said they thought the two were joking. But following Friday's news conference, Senate Minority Floor Leader David Karem of Louisville said he doubts the two are capable of "joshing and kidding" with one another.
The incidents reflect high partisan tension in Frankfort, with Republicans in control of the Senate and Democrats in charge of the House at a time when lawmakers are trying to reach a consensus on the most political job they have.
Until redistricting is settled, some legislators worry that little else will get done. Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly of Springfield said redistricting will be a "distraction" until it's resolved.
State and federal legislative boundaries must be redrawn after each federal census, to maintain the "one man, one vote" principle by drawing districts with balanced populations.
But political rivalries complicate redistricting. The majority party can draw lines that put incumbents of the other party in districts with each other. Where district lines are drawn also can determine which party prevails.
The process often causes internal party squabbles as well, as party members vie against each other to map out a favorable constituency.
This is the first time in Kentucky that the legislature has faced the task of redistricting when Democrats have a majority in one chamber and Republicans a majority in the other. But Kentucky lawmakers aren't alone in their inability to reach an agreement.
Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said such fights are common in states that have split control of their legislative chambers.
In Kentucky, the stakes are high in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim edge because two senators elected in 1998 as Democrats, Dan Seum of Louisville and Bob Leeper of Paducah, switched parties.
Redistricting is likely to help the GOP because areas that are increasingly voting Republican showed more population growth in the 2000 census.
Republicans clamored for months for a special redistricting session and, when Gov. Paul Patton didn't call one, filed state and federal lawsuits Dec. 26 to force the issue.
Republicans say Democrats want this November's elections to be held with the current district lines because it's the only way they can regain Senate control.
But Democrats moved first when the session opened Tuesday, filing a congressional redistricting plan that day and following with a state House and Senate plan on Wednesday.
Senate Republicans objected that House members drew a Senate map, something that was left to the Senate when the same party controlled both bodies. Senate Republicans say they have their own redistricting plans but have not introduced one because, according to Kelly, two competing bills would cause gridlock.
But some legislators say gridlock is almost certain anyway. With no agreement in sight, both sides appear to be maneuvering for the upper hand in court.
In redistricting lawsuits, judges have several options. They can draw the district maps themselves, appoint special masters to do the job, adopt one of the plans offered in the legislature or ask each party to submit a plan for consideration.
Storey said parties often begin jockeying for the best legal position early on.
House Democrats say Republicans haven't introduced a redistricting bill because they don't have a plan. Richards said Friday he believes Republicans waited for Democrats to play their hand to get a tactical advantage in court.
By waiting, Republicans could work from the Democratic proposal to develop their own bill, altering it to meet the GOP's political goals and address any constitutional shortcomings in the Democratic plan.
Storey said political parties in other states have tried to assume such an advantage in the hope that a judge would choose from existing plans.
Williams denied Friday that Senate Republicans are doing any such thing. He said Republicans expect a judge to draw the boundaries himself, or with the help of a special master.
House Majority Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg said he believes that Democrats have already taken the advantage if the issue is settled in court by putting their plan out first. Submitting a redistricting bill showed a "good-faith effort," he said.
Republicans, Stumbo said, have done nothing to further the effort, which he said would be hard to defend before a judge. "The court will expect you to do something to help yourself," said Stumbo, a lawyer. "They have done nothing but sit back and complain."
Stumbo also doubts the conventional wisdom that a judge will order redistricting before this year's primary elections are held, noting that redistricting following the 1980 census didn't take place until 1983.
That scenario would be fine with Stumbo, since his home region of Eastern Kentucky has lost population since 1990 and will lose representation in the General Assembly when redistricting is finished.
But Kelly said he expects quick court action, and he said resolving the issue would ease much of the ill will by the time the House and Senate begin considering each other's bills.
Karem doesn't believe that completing redistricting will have that much impact on other matters. He said Republicans have used past partisan flare-ups over committee seats and actions by Patton to block movement on issues.
"First it's 'we can't work with you because of committee parity.' Then it's 'we can't work with you because the governor was mean to us,' " Karem said. "Now it's 'we can't work with you because of redistricting.' It's getting old."
Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause Kentucky, thinks the legislature should put redistricting in the hands of a commission composed of legislative leaders who jointly pick one or more nonpartisan members to cast the swing votes.
"We've got so many vital issues that are important to Kentuckians," Beliles said, "and if we don't resolve this in a nonpartisan way this whole session's going to be so wrapped up in politics that they're just not going to accomplish much."
The citizens group that recently filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Circuit Court to force timely redistricting in Kentucky is now asking the federal courts to step in.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, backed by the nonprofit group ''Kentuckians for Fair Redistricting,'' has asked the U.S. District Court in Frankfort to exercise its jurisdiction because of an impasse in the Kentucky General Assembly over congressional, state House and state Senate redistricting.
Victor Maddox, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said Friday that the ''state court failed to get involved and has indicated that it does not intend to.''
Maddox said Kentuckians for Fair Redistricting is aggressively pursuing the issue because the basic principal of one person, one vote is guaranteed by the Constitution.
It should not be violated because of political differences, he said.
The lawsuit contends that if elections were held later this year using the existing boundary lines in state House, state Senate and U.S. Congressional districts, those elections would be unconstitutional.
The lawsuit also contends that 70 of 100 House districts and 24 of 38 Senate districts are unconstitutional because they have too many or too few people.
In addition, the lawsuit contends that each of Ken tucky's six congressional Districts are outside the constitutional variances for population.
Legislators this year have departed from their traditional way of redrawing legislative district boundaries, which the law requires to be done every 10 years to reflect changes recorded by the U.S. Census.
In the past, each chamber has come up with its own plan and rubber-stamped the other's. Now that Republicans control the Senate, however, House Democrats say that tradition isn't appropriate.
Kentuckians for Fair Redistricting said Franklin County Judge William Graham did not rule on the issues raised in the lawsuit in a timely manner and may be out of town next week.
The Kentucky House ended its first week of its 2002 session Friday without taking decisive action on redistricting.
The group said the circuit court's failure to make any rulings on the issues raised in the state court makes it virtually impossible for a state court ruling before the candidate filing deadline of Jan. 29.
In such instances, the group claims, the United States Supreme Court has stated that federal courts may step in and protect the rights of the voters.
Earlier this week, state Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, filed a bill in the Senate to extend the filing deadline and move the date for the primary election if redistricting is not agreed upon before the filing deadline.
Four days down, 56 to go. And, already, I've exhausted my list of synonyms for the word ''nasty.''
In the first week of the 2002 General Assembly, lawmakers delivered on every prediction that this session would be particularly vitriolic.
Facing the politically-toxic exercise of redistricting with opposing parties heading the two chambers, it was almost guaranteed to be that way.
House Democrats introduced their plan for new congressional district boundaries on Tuesday and their plan for legislative boundaries Wednesday. They broke a long-standing agreement between the two chambers by proposing lines not only for the House, but the Senate as well.
That didn't sit well with the Senate Republican majority, which opted not to introduce its plans at all, but to instead work off the House plans.
House Democrats responded with cries that the Republicans, who have slapped Democrats for not getting redistricting done sooner, don't really have a plan at all.
''(The Senate) has no plan. If it did, we would have seen it,'' House Speaker Jody Richards said Friday morning at an end-of-the week press conference he holds jointly with Senate President David Williams.
Williams, R-Burkesville, assured the crowd that the Senate does, indeed, have a plan but it would be pointless for the two chambers to be working on two plans simultaneously.
He then reiterated that he had offered to approve any plan the House came up with for the House if the Democratic leadership would sign off on any plan the Senate came up with for the Senate.
''I haven't been meddling in your business, and I wish you could say the same about meddling in the Senate's business,'' Williams said.
Then, he took a shot at the House's plan for congressional districts, calling it, among other things, ''sorry.''
To which Richards replied: ''You're full of it.''
It's no wonder one senator dubbed the House speaker and Senate president's joint briefing the ''Punch and Jody'' show.
Of course, the redistricting fight started long before legislators returned to Frankfort on Tuesday. Republicans and Democrats have been wrestling for months over when and how to redraw congressional and legislative boundaries, a chore that falls to them after each census produces new population data.
Republicans wanted it done in a special session last year. They figure changes will favor the GOP in this year's elections.
The Democrats wanted to wait. They figure the existing lines will favor them.
So, it's fallen to this General Assembly to take care of the constitutionally-required process. And if they can't do it by the time the session ends in April, the responsibility may fall to the courts.
No matter who ends up doing it, the process will be nothing short of acrimonious. Not to mention rancorous. And, of course, caustic. Did I mention contentious?
There was a bright spot in the re districting storm. Northern Kentucky's House delegation provided an oasis of civility in the tumultuous week of redistricting. All 10 members - Republicans and Democrats - agreed on how their districts were drawn, even congenially agreeing to swap certain precincts with each other. Yes, Republicans and Democrats alike were pleased with the map.
But only for Northern Kentucky.
Rep. Joe Fischer, who sued the legislature for passing an unconstitutional plan last time it redistricted, said he was happy with the way Northern Kentucky's lines were drawn, but had problems with the entire map.
No matter how neatly Northern Kentucky is divided, the rest of the map House Democrats proposed is unconstitutional, the Fort Thomas Republican said.
''I will not vote for a plan that does not comply with the constitution,'' he said.
The political and legal battles over redistricting got a new player yesterday.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People circulated maps that would create a third Jefferson County state House district with a mainly African-American population, and include districts in Jefferson and Christian counties that would be 46 and 38 percent black, respectively.
And the civil-rights organization is willing to go to court to see that its ideas become law, said Raoul Cunningham of Louisville, its voting-rights coordinator for Kentucky.
''There are certain aspects of it, if not enacted, that we would definitely go to court over,'' Cunningham said. Asked the likelihood that the group will sue, he said., ''If I were a betting person, I would say 70 to 30.''
The NAACP did not draw a complete redistricting plan, just districts that would have AfricanAmerican majorities or more black population than they do now.
Currently, Jefferson County has two majority-black House districts, the 42nd and 43rd in northwest Louisville, running largely west to east. The NAACP map would shift them to a more north-south axis and put much of their black population into the 41st District of Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, who is white.
Riner couldn't be reached for comment last night, but he has endorsed the idea of making his district majority black. However, the plan would leave him just outside the eastern boundary of the 41st District, Cunningham said.
Rep. Reginald Meeks, an African American who represents the 42nd, would be in the 41st, and Rep. Dennis Horlander, who is white and represents the 40th, would be in the 42nd, Cunningham said. All the legislators involved are Democrats. Such shifts would give the plan little chance of passing the House, but the NAACP says the federal Voting Rights Act calls for the creation of districts that give minorities a reasonable opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.
Kentucky's population is about 7.3 percent black, but only four of the 100 House members and one of the 38 senators are African Americans.
The NAACP plan would draw Democratic Rep. Tom Burch's Newburg-area 30th District in a way to maximize its African-American population, at 46 percent. About 41 percent of its voting-age population would be black. The NAACP would give the district several precincts from adjoining districts, which Republicans say have been parceled out to other Democrats in order to get them re-elected.
The democrat who would give up the most AfricanAmerican residents under the NAACP plan is House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, Jefferson County's top-ranking legislator. He could not be reached for comment last night.
The NAACP would also create a 38 percent black Senate district stretching from Newburg to central Louisville areas now represented by Democrat Gerald Neal, the only African-American senator. Neal said he wants more AfricanAmerican representation and influence in the legislature, but doesn't know whether the NAACP plan is practical because it only draws two districts and no others.
The NAACP plan would draw the 8th District in Hopkinsville and Christian County so as to make its votingage population 36 percent African American. No incumbent would live in the district. Its current representative, John Adams, would be in the 9th District with fellow Democrat Jim Bruce, the House's longest-serving member.
Bruce, asked what he thought of the proposal, said: ''I think they have a lot of justification for it, but I doubt if it would pass. They don't have the votes.''
Meanwhile, the House State Government Committee gave perfunctory approval to the Democratic legislative redistricting plan, which is to be amended and reapproved in committee next week. The procedural step could speed the bill's trip through the House. Senate President David Williams said Republicans will wait until the House acts before revealing their proposal.
Democrats introduced a redistricting bill yesterday that appears to be well outside court-ordered guidelines in the way it draws state House districts.
Democrats said that House Bill 1 would be changed for the better and predicted that it would satisfy the courts -- which may have the final say if the legislative impasse on redistricting continues beyond the candidate filing deadline, now Jan. 29, for this year's legislative elections.
The bill divides 26 counties, three more than the state Supreme Court has said it would allow, and the population range between its smallest and largest districts is more than 19 percent, well above federal courts' standard guideline of 10 percent. It also draws Senate districts, but without such problems.
House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown charged that Democrats have proposed an unconstitutional plan in hopes of delaying redistricting long enough so that this year's races for the state Senate, now 20-18 Republican, will be run in the current districts.
Democratic Whip Joe Barrows of Versailles declined to comment on Hoover's remarks.
The issue is bound to end up in a House-Senate conference committee as the filing deadline approaches, overshadowing and perhaps delaying other business in the 60-day legislative session that began Tuesday.
Republicans are asking state and federal courts to set a deadline for the legislature to act, and if it does not, to draw new maps by court order. They have also proposed postponing the filing deadline and the May 28 primary election if new maps aren't law by Jan. 29.
The Democrats' bill would remove one district each from Jefferson County and Eastern Kentucky, which did not gain population as fast as the rest of the state from 1990 to 2000.
That would put Republican Reps. Ron Crimm of Middletown and Bob Heleringer of Eastwood in the same district, and also throw together GOP Reps. Howard Cornett of Whitesburg and Johnnie Turner of Harlan. Cornett's home, Letcher County, would be split among three districts, another constitutionally questionable facet of the plan.
The two districts would be moved to areas of greater population growth -- one in Carroll, Henry and Trimble counties and part of Oldham County, and another in Fayette and Madison counties.
The bill's Senate plan put no incumbents together. Democrats said it leaves Democrat-turned-Republican Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville in a district with his Democratic opponent, Virginia Woodward. A Senate Republican plan, most of which has not been disclosed, would move Seum's district into more Republican territory and exclude Woodward.
Normally, the House and Senate approve plans for their own chambers and rubber-stamp the other chamber's plan. Now that Republicans have their first Senate majority, Democrats say that tradition is no longer valid.
Republicans said they would not reveal their maps until the Democratic-controlled House acts on redistricting bills.
Democrats said Monday that they would introduce their bills Tuesday, but blamed last-minute technical glitches for the delay. But Republicans suggested that the problem goes deeper.
''The question is, can the House get its act together and pass a bill?'' Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, said in an interview after the House recessed yet again to wait for the legislative map to be completed.
Meanwhile yesterday, the House State Government Committee approved Democrats' House Bill 2 for congressional redistricting on a party-line vote.
Rep. Tim Feeley, R-Crestwood, said the legislature should follow a plan proposed by the state's Republican-controlled congressional delegation and add Oldham County to the 3rd District because most people in the county work in Jefferson County.
Rep. Woody Allen, R-Morgantown, said congressional and legislative redistricting plans should have been passed in a special legislative session last year, and he blamed Democrats for lack of action.
The committee chairman and sponsor of the bill, Rep. Charles Geveden, D-Wickliffe, ignored Allen's remarks but agreed that the issue is likely to be settled by judges.
Democrats agreed on a draft legislative redistricting bill last night that would pit two pairs of House Republicans, including a Jefferson County pair, against each other in this year's elections.
The other pair would be in southeastern Kentucky, where the Democratic plan would divide Letcher County among three districts -- a move that Republicans said would violate the state constitution.
The Democrats' plan would cost Jefferson County one of its 18 House seats. In the Senate, the plan would let Democrats Virginia Woodward and Don Fornwalt continue their challenges of Louisville Republican Sen. Dan Seum. Seum's switch from the Democratic Party helped give the GOP control of the Senate.
Introduction of the bill, promised by a Democratic lawyer at a court hearing Monday, was delayed last night as House Democratic leaders hashed out new district lines in and around Jefferson County.
House Speaker Jody Richards said about 9:15 p.m. that the bill is ready but legislative staff members had asked that introduction be delayed until today because they were so tired.
Earlier on the first day of the legislative session, Democrats introduced a congressional redistricting bill that would put the Owensboro area in Western Kentucky's 1st Congressional District and would split the district's eastern Republican counties between the 2nd and 5th districts.
The congressional bill, introduced in the Democratic-controlled House, also would keep the 3rd District entirely within Jefferson County.
Senate Republicans did not introduce competing redistricting bills yesterday, saying they wanted to see how the House deals with the issue.
Senate Republicans did introduce a bill to change Kentucky's primary election schedule if the legislature and the governor fail to enact new districts into law by Jan. 29, the deadline for candidates to file for this year's primaries.
The primary bill would make the filing deadline April 15 and would reschedule the primary from May 28 to June 18.
If the legislature's impasse over redistricting continues, the bills will figure in lawsuits that Republicans filed Dec. 26 in state and federal courts demanding that judges set a redistricting deadline for the legislature, and that the courts draw the districts if the legislature fails to meet such a deadline.
Redistricting is done after each census to equalize district populations. It is especially contentious this time with the General Assembly having a Democratic majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate.
Normally, each chamber passes a plan for itself and approves the other chamber's plan without changes. Republicans want to continue that tradition, but Democrats don't.
The Democrats' plan for the Senate apparently would leave Seum with a district inclined to elect a Democrat. A Republican plan circulated two months ago would have moved Seum's district south, toward Fairdale and Okolona, where Republicans tend to fare better.
Jefferson County is losing a House seat because it didn't gain population as fast as the rest of the state. But the Democratic draft for the House, putting Republican Reps. Ron Crimm of Middletown and Bob Heleringer of Eastwood in the same district, joins parts of the county that registered some of the greatest population gains from 1990 to 2000.
''If they go through with this, I will probably consult an attorney and get some direction as to what my options are,'' Crimm said.
Heleringer, a House member since 1980 who has enjoyed good relations with Democrats, said, ''I thought I was liked up here.''
Jefferson County's top-ranking legislator, Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona, said the selection of the two was based on geography. ''It's more Republican out there,'' he said of the county's east end.
The other Republicans pitted against each other would be Howard Cornett of Whitesburg and Johnnie Turner of Harlan. Cornett's home Letcher County would be split three ways, which Republicans said would violate redistricting rules set by the state Supreme Court. ''That appears to be unconstitutional,'' Senate President David Williams said.
The Supreme Court has said that no county too small to form a district by itself can be split, and Letcher is one of those counties.
''It's just dirty,'' Cornett said. ''There's one thing for certain, and you can write this down -- they're in for a fight.''
House Democratic Floor Leader Greg Stumbo defended the plan in an interview. ''We believe that there is some latitude in the number of counties that can be split.''
The districts lost in Jefferson County and southeastern Kentucky would move to central and northcentral Kentucky. A new district would be created from Henry, Trimble, Carroll and Owen counties and a piece of Oldham County, and another would comprise parts of Fayette and Madison counties. No incumbents now live in those districts.
The Democrats' congressional map would make the 1st District much more compact than it has been since 1991, when the state lost a district and seven counties in Southern Kentucky were added to the 1st.
Six of those counties, the ones with Republican majorities, would be moved to other districts. They are Allen, Monroe and Cumberland, which would go to the 2nd District of Republican Rep. Ron Lewis; and Clinton, Russell and Wayne, which would return to the 5th District of Republican Rep. Hal Rogers.
The 1st District, represented by Republican Ed Whitfield, would gain Daviess and Hancock counties.
Republicans hold five of the state's six congressional seats and want mostly to keep the current alignment with one major change -- adding Oldham County to the 3rd District of Republican Rep. Anne Northup.
Northup's current district needs about 47,000 more people to be the proper size -- almost exactly the population of Oldham County, which votes Republican in federal elections.
But Rep. Charles Geveden of Wickliffe, who introduced the Democratic plan, said Jefferson County should have its own district.
The Democratic plan would expand the 3rd District into southwestern Jefferson County, generally more Democratic territory than the rest of the county not currently in the district and favorable to Democrat Jack Conway's challenge of Northup.
Northup aide Terry Carmack said Northup ''would be thrilled to represent more of Jefferson County in Congress. However, the Democrats in Frankfort are focused on bettering themselves politically. If they are so interested in unification, we would hope they would finally unify neighborhoods like Newburg.''
Newburg, a predominantly African-American community, is split between four state House districts, and some African-American leaders have called for a Newburg-centered district that would be about 40 percent black.
Geveden said the Democratic congressional plan is better than the Republican plan because it creates districts that are more compact and virtually equal in population.
Because Democrats would split several counties and precincts, their largest district is estimated to have only seven more people than the ideal-sized district, while the smallest district is estimated to have only seven fewer than the ideal. Geveden said the Republican plan's largest district is 5,029 above the ideal size and its smallest is 5,009 below.
If the legislature doesn't agree on congressional districts and the map has to be drawn by a panel of three federal judges, the judges would be more likely to adopt the Democratic plan than the Republican plan, Geveden said.
The Republican plan did not split precincts and counties, other than Jefferson.
But the Democratic plan would split, going from west to east: Grayson County (and its precincts of Caneyville and Ready); Jefferson (Precincts 130 and 149); Shelby (Guist Creek, Clayvillage and Hooper Station); Garrard (Cartersville and Paint Lick) and Menifee (Means).
The Democratic plan also would make the 1st District, where Geveden lives, more Democratic in a year when Whitfield is facing a Democratic challenge from Hopkinsville lawyer Klint Alexander.
Whitfield is unhappy with the Democrats' plan, while Alexander said it ''makes sense from a geographic perspective.''
The General Assembly opens a 60-day session today but got an early start yesterday on one of its hottest issues, fighting in court over new boundaries for this year's elections.
In response to a Republican lawsuit that seeks to force a timetable for redistricting, a Democratic lawyer told a Franklin County judge that bills would be filed today to draw new state legislative and congressional districts and that the Democratic-controlled House would move quickly to pass them.
The Democrats' map for the House is expected to cost Jefferson County one of its 18 seats in that chamber.
Republican lawyers argued that the House and the GOP-controlled Senate are unlikely to resolve their differences over redistricting before Kentucky's Jan. 29 deadline for candidates to file for this year's elections.
The Republican attorneys said Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham should set a deadline for the legislature to act, and, if necessary, postpone the filing deadline and draw the maps himself.
But Democrats said the legislature should have time to act, and Graham agreed. He was poised to dismiss the case until Republican attorneys pressed Democrats to admit that no more elections should be held using the current districts because their populations are unbalanced.
Don Cetrulo of Lexington, the lawyer for House Speaker Jody Richards, conceded that if the legislature passed a redistricting plan with the current populations, it would be unconstitutional.
''That was huge,'' Ben Ginsberg of Washington, one of the Republican lawyers, said afterward. ''They admitted you can't have any more elections under the existing lines, so someone has to redistrict.''
But Cetrulo said the issue of allowing a reasonable time to redraw districts remains. He said Republicans failed in the only matter before Graham yesterday -- their request for an expedited hearing schedule that called for Graham to set, by Friday, a deadline for the legislature to redistrict.
Graham agreed to consider written arguments.
''I do not see at this point anything other than civic-minded anxiety, which may be well-founded, well-motivated and justifiable, but I do not see a case,'' he said.
The Republican plaintiffs allege their constitutional rights are being violated because they live in districts that are overpopulated, and thus they are under-represented. Drawing new lines using 2000 census data would help Republicans because of population gains in areas, primarily suburbs, that have shown a trend toward voting for the GOP.
Cetrulo and Sheryl Snyder, a lawyer for Gov. Paul Patton, argued that the Republican lawsuit filed Dec. 26 is premature because the legislature has time to draw new maps before the filing deadline. A nearly identical suit was filed in federal court.
Republicans had wanted Patton to call a special session on redistricting, but he refused, saying it was a legislative issue that required an agreement among the parties and the chambers before incurring the cost of a session.
But now that legislators are coming to Frankfort anyway, Patton has become involved in redistricting negotiations in the last few days, said his chief of staff, Andrew ''Skipper'' Martin.
''It's time to move on,'' Martin said in an interview. ''He has always said there must be a bill, and he believed there would be a bill. . . . He's making his prediction come true in a timely manner.''
Richards, in an interview, said two bills, one to redraw state House and Senate districts and the other to redraw congressional districts, will be introduced today as House Bills 1 and 2, respectively, and could get a floor vote as early as Friday.
Chris Lilly, counsel to Senate President David Williams, said he did not know if Senate Republicans would introduce their own redistricting bills today.
Traditionally, the House and Senate have each passed plans for their own chambers and rubber-stamped the other's plan. Republicans want to continue the tradition, but Democrats say it is no longer appropriate because the two chambers are no longer controlled by the same party.
The redistricting impasse is expected to overshadow much of the legislative session because of the issue's political importance to legislators. Williams has suggested the impasse will make it more difficult to pass other legislation.
Richards declined yesterday to give details of the House redistricting plan.
But House Majority Floor Leader Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the House plan would split Jefferson County into 17 districts instead of the current 18 because the county did not gain population as fast as the rest of the state.
The potential loss of a Jefferson County seat has concerned the county's top-ranked legislator, House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Okolona. Clark did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.
Stumbo said in an interview he is ready to redistrict.
''I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we will redistrict. I think there is a better chance than not that there will be a redistricting deal in the first week or 10 days of this session,'' he said.
Last month, Stumbo said it was too late to redistrict because there wouldn't be enough notice to voters and potential candidates before the filing deadline, even if the deadline were extended.
The Republican lawsuit cited his comments as an example of Democratic intransigence on the issue, and GOP lawyer Victor Maddox of Louisville cited it in court yesterday.
But Graham told the Republican lawyers, ''You're assuming legislative intransigence. I'm unwilling to assume that.''
The 2002 General Assembly promises to be Frankfort's biggest political donnybrook in recent memory, mainly because of deep divisions over that most partisan of subjects -- redistricting.
''I've been observing the legislature for well over 20 years, and I can't think of a time when they came into a regular session with more opportunities for conflict,'' said Paul Blanchard, director of Eastern Kentucky University's Center for Kentucky History and Politics.
The potential goes beyond Democratic control of the House and Republican control of the Senate. Blanchard pointed to institutional conflict between the two chambers, along with partisan and even intra-party differences within each chamber.
Adding to the political stew are the November elections that could return the narrowly divided Senate to Democratic control, a House speaker running for governor, other lawmakers with statewide ambitions in 2003 and Democratic Gov. Paul Patton, who plans to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning in 2004.
But the meat in the stew is redistricting, which follows each census to equalize General Assembly and congressional districts. Shifts in population since 1990 have pushed most districts outside constitutional guidelines, leaving most Kentuckians either under-represented or over-represented.
While detailed census figures have been available for months, Patton declined to call a special redistricting session in December, saying it would be a waste of money because legislators hadn't agreed on new boundaries.
Republicans accused Democrats of stalling, hoping to put off redistricting until after this November's elections, when Senate control and at least one congressional seat, in the 3rd District, will be up for grabs.
The day after Christmas, a group of GOP activists filed lawsuits to force the Democrats' hand and postpone the Jan. 29 candidate filing deadline for legislative and congressional seats. The suits ask that if the legislature does not redistrict in a reasonable time, that courts draw the maps.
In crucial districts such as those in Jefferson County, new lines would generally favor Republicans. But if Democrats can overcome their 20-18 Senate disadvantage, they can control how the lines are redrawn.
Senate President David Williams, the legislature's top Republican, said progress on other issues will be impeded because Democrats offended Republicans by not acting on redistricting before the regular session.
''If the governor wants to paralyze the legislature, that's what he's going to do,'' Williams said. ''Everybody will be focused on the redistricting aspects of things and it will politicize the atmosphere.''
Patton said that redistricting is up to legislators, not the governor, and that lawmakers shouldn't abdicate their responsibility in other areas.
''If the most important thing in their life is their job and redistricting, I would question whether that is responsible public policy,'' he said.
Beyond political considerations, redistricting is complicated partly because court decisions have limited the number of counties that can be divided. But the main complication is that this is the first modern redistricting involving a House and Senate controlled by opposite parties.
Historically, the House and Senate have each worked out maps for their own districts and automatically approved the other chamber's plan. Republicans say that tradition should continue. Democrats say it should not.
''Traditionally, both houses of the legislature were in agreement. That doesn't happen to be the case now,'' Patton said. ''That is constitutionally, legally and morally an obligation of both houses of the legislature to adopt a redistricting plan.''
But Williams said Patton was being ''disingenuous as far as the political reality is concerned'' because Democrats don't want to redistrict, and the governor's rule would subject Democratic House districts to Republican Senate scrutiny.
''There's a lot more areas where Democrats protect themselves in the House than there are where Republicans or Democrats protect themselves in the Senate,'' Williams said.
Recent court decisions that prevent legislators from dividing counties that are smaller than a district's ideal size leave only three counties -- Jefferson, Fayette and Kenton -- that can be split among Senate districts. Twenty-three counties can be split among House districts.
Those court decisions threw out the legislative maps drawn in 1991, the year following the 1990 census. The district lines now in use weren't approved until 1996.
House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark of Okolona points to 1996 for his contention that redistricting isn't required now. The state constitution calls for districts to be redrawn every 10 years and does not mention the census.
Republicans scoff at Clark's argument and note that the constitution calls for district populations to be equalized, which the new census shows they are not.
House Floor Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg, a Democrat, argues that it's too late to redistrict now, even if the filing deadline is put off. Candidates and voters need time to become familiar with the new district lines, he said.
Republican lawyers have said cutting the period between the filing deadline and the primary -- now four months, one of the longest in the nation -- would be reasonable.
Both Stumbo and Clark have political reasons to postpone redistricting. They are at odds over which of their regions -- Eastern Kentucky for Stumbo; Jefferson County for Clark -- will lose a House seat.
If all House districts were made roughly equal in population, Jefferson County would get 17 seats instead of its current 18. Clark wants to keep 18 by making them near the minimum legal size -- 5 percent below the ideal population.
That would require other districts to be larger and probably would take a seat from Eastern Kentucky.
Jefferson County also figures prominently in Senate and congressional redistricting.
A Republican plan for Senate districts would protect Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, by excluding from his district the two Democrats who are raising money to run against him. It also would put Virginia Woodward, who already has filed for the Democratic nomination to oppose Seum, into the district of Sen. Larry Saunders, D-Louisville and Seum's longtime enemy.
Democrats also oppose the Republican plan to bring Oldham County into the Jefferson County-dominated 3rd Congressional District.
Mixed in with redistricting and partisan rivalries are the career interests of several legislators.
House Speaker Jody Richards is an all-but-announced candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2003. Williams has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for governor and doesn't rule it out, but says he has never expressed an interest in the job.
The Republican most actively pursuing the office is Rep. Steve Nunn of Glasgow. Nunn is the son of Louie Nunn, Kentucky's last Republican governor, who served from 1967 to 1971.
With most statewide officials barred from seeking re-election next year, other open seats are attracting lawmakers.
Stumbo has expressed an interest in running for attorney general. Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, is shooting for agriculture commissioner. Sen. Bob Jackson, D-Murray, is a prime candidate to run for lieutenant governor on a slate headed by Attorney General Ben Chandler, and other legislators have been mentioned as possible running mates for other candidates.
The prospect that redistricting will dominate the first week of this year's legislative session increased yesterday when plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to force the issue asked for expedited hearings.
Attorneys for the Republican activist plaintiffs in the suit said they will be in Franklin Circuit Court on Monday to argue an emergency motion that the court give the case immediate attention, with a preliminary motions hearing on Thursday and a hearing on the merits of the case next Friday.
The legislative session convenes Tuesday.
The plaintiffs contend in the suit, filed last week, that their constitutional rights will be violated if elections are held this year using existing legislative and congressional districts, based on 1990 census data.
The plaintiffs are pressing in state and federal court to compel the General Assembly to redraw districts using 2000 census data in time for November's elections.
The urgency is based on the Jan. 29 deadline for candidates to file for this year's elections in all 100 Kentucky House districts, 19 of 38 state Senate districts and all six of the state's U.S. House districts.
Republicans, who control the state Senate, had wanted a special legislative session on redistricting. But Democratic Gov. Paul Patton declined to call one. Democratic legislators say Republicans have never shown them the complete GOP plan for redrawing Senate districts.
In a memorandum filed yesterday to support an expedited hearing schedule, Victor Maddox, attorney for the plaintiffs, argued, ''It is common knowledge that with the control of the two chambers of the General Assembly being shared by the Republican and Democratic parties, a practical impasse in the redistricting process has been reached.''
Maddox said the court must set a deadline for the General Assembly to complete redistricting well before the Jan. 29 candidate filing deadline. ''The court should order that if its deadline is not met, the court itself will draw the map,'' Maddox said.
House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said the plaintiffs' request was premature and that the House will be prepared to act quickly. ''We will finish our maps very soon. We think they will be fair and constitutional,'' Richards said.
But Senate President David Williams, a Burkesville Republican, said Patton and Democratic leaders forced the issue into court by breaking the tradition of allowing the majority within each General Assembly chamber to redraw its own districts without interference from the other chamber. ''It's going to take a court to bring them to their senses,'' Williams said.
Rusty Cheuvront, spokesman for Patton, said the attorney for the governor's office would respond to the motion in court on Monday.
Republicans upset over redistricting inaction went to court yesterday, asking in two lawsuits that the General Assembly be ordered to draw new congressional and legislative maps in time for the 2002 elections.
The state and federal lawsuits ask judges to set a deadline for the legislature to act, and if the deadline isn't met to draw the district lines themselves.
The suits also sought an extension of the period for candidates to file for legislative and congressional races. That deadline is Jan. 29, three weeks after the 2002 General Assembly session convenes.
The suits allege the redistricting impasse is likely to continue and that elections using the current districts would be unconstitutional. Even if the impasse is resolved before the filing deadline, that won't be soon enough for potential candidates to make ''informed choices about whether to run for office,'' the suits said.
Democratic legislative leaders said the suits are premature and that the General Assembly has time after it convenes Jan. 8 to draw new district lines.
Redistricting would be to Republicans' advantage because of recent population gains in suburban and other areas that tend to vote Republican.
Revised districts would give Republicans a better chance of gaining seats or, in some cases, keeping the seats they have, such as those of 3rd District U.S. Rep. Anne Northup and state Sen. Dan Seum, both of Louisville. The two lawsuits are based on the constitutional principle of ''one man, one vote,'' holding that districts should be roughly equal in population so each person's vote has the same weight in the state legislature and Congress.
The six plaintiffs, all active Republicans, say their votes have been diluted because they live in congressional and legislative districts that have too many people, based on the 2000 census.
The legislature normally redraws districts soon after each census, but legislators have been unable to agree on maps for the state House and Senate or the congressional districts.
Traditionally, the House and Senate draw maps for themselves and rubber-stamp the other chamber's map. But now that Republicans have their first Senate majority, Democrats say both chambers should have a say over both maps.
Democrats have objected to Republicans' Senate and congressional plans, while House Democrats have been unable to agree on a plan for their chamber because of population losses that will cost either Jefferson County or Eastern Kentucky a House seat.
The five Republicans in the state's delegation to the U.S. House have drawn a map that would add strongly Republican Oldham County to Northup's district, where she faces a challenge from Democrat Jack Conway.
Democrats want to limit any expansion of Northup's district to Jefferson County and add the Owensboro area to Western Kentucky's 1st District, where Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield faces a challenge from Democrat Klint Alexander.
The lawsuits filed yesterday are financed by Kentuckians for Fair Redistricting, a nonprofit corporation formed by former state Republican Chairman Robert Gable, former U.S. Attorney Joe Whittle and Lexington homebuilder Don Ball, a Republican activist and former state senator.
State Republican Chairman Ellen Williams said she helped line up the plaintiffs, but the party is playing no other role.
The plaintiffs -- who live in the three congressional districts that are overpopulated -- are Owensboro lawyer John Bickel and Bowling Green contractor Jim Skaggs, of the 2nd District; Betty Thompson of Shelbyville, former state Rep. Jim Zimmerman of La Grange and Robert Williams of Union, in the 4th; and Basil Turbyfill of Danville, in the 6th.
The suits were filed in Franklin Circuit Court at Frankfort and U.S. District Court at Louisville. They were assigned to Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham and U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley of Owensboro. Graham was chosen by lot; McKinley was chosen because all the defendants are outside the Western District of Kentucky and the first named plaintiff, Bickel, is from Owensboro.
Among the defendants are Gov. Paul Patton and Attorney General Ben Chandler, both Democrats; House Speaker Jody Richards, DBowling Green; and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville.
Federal redistricting cases are heard by the district judge who draws the case and two other federal judges, one of whom must be an appellate judge. The other two are appointed by the chief judge of the appellate circuit, in this case 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Boyce Martin of Louisville. Martin and McKinley were appointed by Democratic presidents.
The federal system is designed to produce quick decisions, which can then be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final ruling.
Based on prior court decisions, the federal judges are likely to defer action on state legislative districts unless they think state courts aren't moving fast enough, said the plaintiffs' attorneys, Victor Maddox of Louisville and Benjamin Ginsberg of Washington, D.C.
Patton declined to comment on the suits, saying redistricting is up to the legislature and the courts. Chandler's office also declined to comment.
Williams, although he is a defendant, has pushed for redistricting and said he didn't plan to mount much of a defense, if any.
Richards and Senate Democratic Leader David Karem of Louisville said the suits are premature because the legislature has time to pass redistricting plans before the Jan. 29 candidate filing deadline. It takes at least five legislative days to pass a bill into law.
That would leave two weeks before the filing deadline. Ginsberg said two weeks is not sufficient time for prospective candidates to decide whether they want to run in freshly redrawn districts. He said two months would be a reasonable time.
If the filing deadline were postponed two months, that would put it just before the end of the legislative session -- about where it was 22 years ago, before the legislative election schedule was changed and legislators started making the deadline earlier to gauge their opposition before casting controversial votes.
Kentucky's 17-week period between the filing deadline and the May 28 primary election is one of the longest in the nation.
Republicans have blamed Patton for not calling a special legislative session and forcing Democrats to redistrict. Patton has said he didn't call a special session because it would be a waste of money until legislative leaders agreed on new district boundaries.
The suits referred to Democratic arguments that legislative redistricting isn't required now because the districts were last redrawn in 1996, and the state constitution requires only that they be redrawn every 10 years.
The Republican lawyers scoffed at that, noting that the 1996 maps were required by a state court decision and were based on the 1990 census. They said courts have made clear that legislatures must redistrict after each census.
The other defendants in the case are the State Board of Elections and its executive director, Mary Sue Helm; and Secretary of State John Y. Brown III, who is the board's chairman and the state's chief election officer. They were sued to block them from conducting elections with the current districts.
Kentucky legislators have hit an impasse on drawing new lines for congressional and General Assembly districts, eliminating the chance of a special redistricting session and pushing the issue into the 2002 regular session.
The dispute is likely to complicate work on other issues during the session that opens Jan. 8 and could result in judges instead of legislators drawing district lines, which must reflect population changes as measured by the 2000 census.
House and Senate leaders say they will move redistricting bills in the session's first week, but obstacles to compromise are considerable. Senate President David Williams said this week that he and his fellow Republican senators won't be as generous in yielding to Democratic wishes as they had offered to be in a special session.
Meanwhile, two key House Democratic leaders, Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark of Okolona and Majority Leader Greg Stumbo of Prestonsburg, said that there's no compelling need to redistrict right away and that current legislative boundaries could be used for next year's elections.
But delay is less likely for congressional redistricting because constitutional requirements to redraw those districts are clearer.
Under court rulings establishing the ''one-man, one-vote'' principle, most Kentuckians are now either underrepresented or overrepresented in the legislature. Those rulings call for district populations to be within 5 percent of their ideal population.
If a lawsuit is filed to force redistricting, the court case could postpone the Jan. 29 deadline for candidates to file for the May 28 primary elections. Republicans say the primary itself could be postponed.
Democrats scoff at such a prospect. But Republicans are prepared to press for redistricting in time for the 2002 elections.
Even without redistricting, the 2002 session is expected to be contentious because of Kentucky's serious budget problems. Democrats also are expected to push for legislation that Republicans have blocked, such as limits on telephone solicitors and controls on solid waste.
Williams is warning that Gov. Paul Patton and Democratic legislators will find it harder to do business in the regular session because they wouldn't do business in a special session.
''The Republicans in the Senate conducted the most fair attempt at a redistricting that's ever been done, and our efforts were just completely ignored,'' Williams said. ''I think the members of our caucus feel insulted by the whole process. I just don't see how you can act this very personal sort of way with people and not think it involves the relationships in other areas.''
But Williams declined to be specific about how Republicans might respond.
Senate Democratic Leader David Karem said Williams should not ''send a message that issues the people of Kentucky are interested in will be sidetracked or taken off the table because someone can't have their way on another issue.''
As for seeking to involve the governor, Patton spokesman Rusty Cheuvront said Patton has been consistent in saying that redistricting is a legislative issue. Both Cheuvront and Karem pointed out that Republicans have criticized Democrats as too willing to follow the governor's lead.
Republicans, meantime, are expected to benefit from redistricting. The state's population gains from 1990 to last year occurred mainly in areas that are trending Republican. The biggest gains were in Northern and Central Kentucky, where House Speaker Jody Richards says new House districts will have to be drawn.
The largest population losses were in traditionally Democratic areas, mainly in Eastern Kentucky and most districts in Jefferson County. The latter shift could reduce the county's representation in the legislature.
Robert Gable, a former chairman of the state Republican Party, has formed a group for filing redistricting lawsuits but would say only that his group is monitoring developments on the issue.
Williams said most Senate Democrats were willing to accept Republicans' maps for their individual districts, which did not pair any incumbents or make drastic district changes, as Democrats did when they were in control.
''We gave all of our concessions up front,'' he said.
But one part of the Republican plan riles some Democrats. It would keep two declared Democratic opponents from running next year against Sen. Dan Seum of Louisville. Seum is one of two former Democrats whose 1999 switches gave Republicans their first Senate majority.
The Republican plan puts one of Seum's would-be opponents, Virginia Woodward, in the district of Sen. Larry Saunders, a Democrat whose seat won't be on the ballot until 2004. Saunders was elected Senate president in 1997 largely with Republican votes and is a threat to do likewise if Democrats regain control of the Senate next November.
Saunders drew an alternate map that would leave Woodward in Seum's district, and found allies in a few other Democrats who didn't like how the Republican plan would affect them.
Williams said that's when Patton should have stepped in.
''Somebody's gonna have to tell the three, four or five people whose districts have to be changed in a bad way that it's gonna happen, and nobody wants to do that any sooner than necessary, I'm sure,'' he said.
Williams blamed Patton's inaction on Clark, who also is the Democratic Party chairman in Jefferson County.
Clark said Williams ''needs to call the governor'' or let House Democrats know when he gets the Senate to agree on a plan.
Traditionally, the House and Senate have passed redistricting plans for their own chambers and then passed the other chamber's plan unchanged. But now that Republicans control the Senate, Democrats say the rules have changed and that leaders of both parties in both chambers should agree on an overall plan.
For most of this year, Patton said he wouldn't call a special session unless there was such an agreement. Six weeks ago, he said the leadership of each chamber -- Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House -- should propose a plan to get the process going.
Senate Republicans have discussed their plan with individual members, but generally limited the discussion to its impact on that member. They have not released any maps, saying that could cause political damage.
Senate Democrats say they won't release their plan until Republicans release theirs.
In the House, Democrats are having difficulty coming up with a plan because their districts are smaller and a state Supreme Court decision limits the number of counties that can be split by district lines.
The task is also difficult because of population losses in much of Jefferson County and Eastern Kentucky -- the power bases, respectively, of Clark and Stumbo.
Jefferson County now contains 18 districts and a small part of another district. If every district in the county had the ideal population, it would have 17 districts and a small part of another. But if each district was drawn at or near the minimum allowable population, the county would still have 18 districts.
Clark said that's what he wants to do. But some other House Democratic leaders aren't sure that will happen, partly because it would cost Eastern Kentucky a seat.
''What's the fairness in that?'' Stumbo asked.
Stumbo said it would be unfair to voters and candidates to change districts so close to the filing deadline. Richards said he'd be willing to postpone the filing deadline a month, but Stumbo said that's too short a time.
''I think it makes more sense to establish the districts in this session and make it applicable to the next election cycle,'' Stumbo said. Republicans said that would be unconstitutional.
The parties are also divided about congressional districts. But the requirement to equalize districts soon after a census is clearer for seats in Congress.
''I feel we have to do a congressional plan,'' Richards said.
Republicans want Oldham County added to the 3rd District of Rep. Anne Northup, R-Louisville, while Democrats want to keep the district inside Jefferson County.
If there's no compromise, the issue could be resolved in federal court, where redistricting lawsuits get special handling for a quick resolution. Cases are heard by a panel of three judges who can draw district lines. Appeals of their decisions go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Republican plan for redistricting the state Senate would give Sen. Dan Seum, a Democrat-turned-Republican, a vastly different district with boundaries that exclude both of his declared Democratic opponents.
Key Republicans defended the move as part of the political process and said their overall plan was the fairest effort yet to redraw the state's Senate districts because it pits no incumbents against one another.
''This is the most fair redistricting effort that's ever been done,'' Senate President David Williams of Burkesville said yesterday.
But Senate Democratic Leader David Karem said Republicans ''have lost the moral high ground'' on the issue by protecting Seum from his opponents and not making their complete plan public.
Seum's 38th District now includes most of south-central Louisville and the homes of Don Fornwalt and Virginia Woodward, who are raising money to run for the Democratic nomination to oppose him next year.
The Republican plan would give Seum mostly new territory, stretching south to Fairdale and Okolona -- areas that are more Republican than his existing district. The GOP plan also would put Woodward and Fornwalt in the districts of Democratic incum-bents who will not be on the ballot until 2004.
Senate Republicans' chief mapmaker, Sen. Albert Robinson of London, said Seum and Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah should get whatever districts they want because their party switches in 1999 gave Republicans control of the Senate.
Robinson said Leeper is happy with his current district. ''Dan Seum will get whatever he wants or there will be no redistricting,'' Robinson said. ''Why would Republicans accept something he doesn't want, when he gave them the majority?''
In a separate interview, Seum distanced himself from the mapmaking process and said he did not think he would get whatever district he wants. ''I think there will be compromises along the way,'' he said.
Seum said he has given little consideration to redistricting because Democratic Gov. Paul Patton has not said he will call a special legislative session for it before the legislature's regular session begins Jan. 8.
As for the exclusion of his Democratic challengers, Seum said, ''I don't know that I've set about personally to make that happen.'' Asked whether he would prefer that they be in other districts, he said, ''I'm not concerned with them being in the race.''
Fornwalt couldn't be reached for comment, but Woodward put the blame on Seum. ''He's just trying to escape the constituents that he has wronged,'' she said. ''You don't get elected from one party and seven months later change.''
Woodward said she is confident that she will be on the ballot against Seum in November 2002 ''because I think the Democrats in the Senate are not going to go along with it and I don't think the House is and I don't think the governor is.''
Karem declined to say, however, whether the controversy would block redistricting. To that question, he said only, ''I am assuming that Senator Seum surely likes the people of the 38th District and he is not saying to the public that he wants to be in a completely new district.''
Patton has said legislators should agree on a plan before he calls a special session, or at least propose separate plans for the Senate and the Democratic-controlled House. Senate Democrats are working on their own plan for the Senate, and House Speaker Jody Richards said the House will support it.
Robinson said that if Patton doesn't call a session by Dec. 31, Republicans will no longer be willing to protect Democratic incumbents. But Williams said: ''I'm not gonna put a date on this. If anybody walks away from the table on this, then it will be the Democrats.''
If the two parties remain at loggerheads, next year's election could be conducted using the current district lines -- most of which have too few or too many people to be constitutional -- or using lines established by a court's decision in a lawsuit. Members of both parties have formed non-profit corporations for legal action on redistricting.
A lawsuit could result in a court setting a later deadline for candidates to file for office, and a later primary election. The filing deadline is now set for Jan. 29 and the primary for May 28.
Robinson said Senate Democrats have been told how the Republican plan would affect them, and ''There will be as many Republicans who will not like the plan as Democrats who will not like the plan.''
Karem said some of Robinson's work ''is clearly a good-faith effort, but I haven't seen the plan.''
Republican Sen. Albert Robinson has a plan for drawing new state Senate district boundaries, though he said it is not quite ready for public display.
Democratic Sen. David Karem said some redistricting map will have to be laid on the table for all to see before serious negotiations can begin.
And a House Democrat said redistricting will be harder in the lower chamber, with 100 districts and a court case that places severe restrictions on boundaries.
The redistricting conundrum that threatens to sweep away any other meaningful business at the beginning of the 2002 General Assembly session shows no signs of being solved.
Mr. Robinson, a veteran legislator from London who has been instrumental in redistricting in three decades and is chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, said Democrats have no reason to complain about the map he has drawn. Mr. Robinson said his map would not place any incumbent senators in districts with any other incumbents and divide the minimum number of counties.
žThe plan that I am working with is not vindictive whatsoever,Ó Mr. Robinson said. žIf there was a question, naturally I would swing it to my own party.Ó
Mr. Karem, the Senate Democratic floor leader from Louisville, said Mr. Robinson has consulted with other legislators, but no concrete proposal has been circulated for all to see.
Republicans hold a slim 20-18 majority in the Senate.
Rep. Joe Barrows of Versailles, the House Democratic whip, said the partisan disagreements are mimicked in House discussions over redistricting.
Democrats hold a 65-34 majority in the House, with one vacancy pending Tuesday's special election.
žWe have as much trouble keeping Democrats happy in the House,Ó Mr. Barrows said.
New legislative district boundaries must be drawn after every census in order to follow the constitutional mandate for equal representation. Population shifts in Kentucky could mean great political shifts as well.
Republicans, who got their majority when two Democratic state senators switched parties two years ago, want to maintain that margin and insist there should be a special session on redistricting this year.
A push by the NAACP to create more state House districts dominated or strongly influenced by blacks has been endorsed by a white lawmaker whose own re-election prospects might be threatened.
Rep. Tom Riner's district, already 40 percent black, would become majority black under a plan revealed Saturday by the NAACP's national redistricting specialist, Sam Walters, at the group's state convention.
žIt empowers the black community to put into office whoever they have trust in,Ó Mr. Riner said of the plan.
Mr. Riner, D-Louisville, could face tough opposition from a black opponent under such a plan. He said whoever represents such a majority-black district, including himself, žwould be more apt to represent their concerns.Ó
Mr. Walters showed how the legislature could draw three majority-black House districts in Louisville instead of the current two, and create districts in Christian and Jefferson counties that would be about 40 percent black.
The 100-member state House now has four African-Americans, though Kentucky's population is 7.4 percent black. The state's voting-age population, that 18 and over, is 6.9 percent black.
Jefferson County has two black state representatives, Democrats Paul Bather and Reginald Meeks, who represent districts with overwhelming black majorities. It once had three black House members, but after the 1980 census one was placed in a majority-white district with Mr. Riner, who defeated her in a Democratic primary.
The plan by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would redraw Mr. Riner's 41st District, Mr. Meeks' 42nd District and Mr. Bather's 43rd District, all in Louisville, to make each district about 61 percent black. All three have lost population and need to expand.
Mr. Meeks said the NAACP needs to get its plan in front of legislators.
Similar advice came from House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, who as Jefferson County's top-ranking House member has much influence over redistricting.
Mr. Clark said that a final plan žis probably three to four weeks away. If the African-American community has a plan, they ought to be sharing it with somebody."
Prospects improved yesterday for a special legislative session this year to redraw political districts to reflect population changes, as Democrats abandoned their quest for adjusted census figures and Gov. Paul Patton moderated his stance on the issue.
The day's action began with Senate President David Williams, that chamber's top Republican, formalizing his longstanding request that Patton call a special session for redistricting.
Unless legislative and congressional districts are redrawn in time for next year's elections, Williams told Patton, ''over 3 million Kentuckians will vote in districts that are unconstitutional'' because they have too many or too few people. Also, Williams said, tackling the job in the regular session that begins in January would distract lawmakers from other issues.
As Patton returned from a European trip yesterday, he sent Williams a letter retreating from his earlier stance that he would call no session until Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers agreed on a plan covering both the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.
''I would suggest that in the interest of efficiency the joint leadership of the General Assembly agree on a proposed redistricting plan as a starting point for debate and an expeditious route to enactment of a final plan,'' Patton wrote.
''AS A minimum, I believe the appropriate interim committee should propose a plan, or, perhaps if one plan cannot be agreed upon, then the leadership of each chamber could propose a plan. I see no reason to expend taxpayers' money until at least a starting point has been established.''
Senate Democratic Leader David Karem called on Williams to reveal his plan for redistricting, if he has one. Williams said a fair plan is being drafted, but ''there are some people who have reservations about floating a plan publicly if there's not an agreement. If he's not serious about calling a session, that could expose members to political damage'' from proposals that they give up certain counties.
Still, yesterday's events were the most significant movement yet on redistricting, a highly partisan issue that has been made intractable by Republicans' 1999 takeover of the Senate and the prospect that they could draw districts to cement that control.
For months, Senate Democrats said they wanted to use adjusted population figures to compensate for the failure of the 2000 census to count some Kentuckians -- most of whom are likely to live in Democratic areas. Williams said that was a ruse, aimed at leaving the existing districts in effect for the 2002 elections.
The Census Bureau said last week that it would not release adjusted figures for distribution of federal funds, and might not release any such figures for any purpose, including redistricting.
Senate Democrats said yesterday that they had given up on the idea of getting adjusted figures through court action here or in other states, but could try to compensate for the undercount in a redistricting plan.
''If we can put together a fair and equitable plan, I think it makes sense to have a session, but it doesn't make sense to call one until we've worked out a fair and equitable plan,'' said Sen. Ernesto Scorsone of Lexington, who has been Senate Democrats' spokesman on the issue.
Williams said there will be ''a great deal of public pressure'' to be fair. He vowed, ''We'll have a plan drawn in the Senate that I believe everyone will agree is one of the most fair plans that's ever been drawn.''
Williams said Sen. Albert Robinson of London, Republicans' point man on redistricting, ''is meeting with Democratic members to show the parameters under which we can reach agreement, and I understand there is considerable progress being made.''
Karem said, ''I would say there is progress being made. We understand they have the majority in the Senate and in that role, obviously, you have to understand they're going to want to do some things. On the other hand, this isn't redistricting in the old days, where you had both chambers and a governor of one party. This is going to call for compromise.''
When Democrats controlled the House and Senate, each chamber drew its own districts and rubber-stamped the other's. Now, with Republicans running the Senate, there needs to be agreement across the chambers on both plans and a plan for congressional districts, House Speaker Jody Richards said yesterday.
Richards said it has been his longstanding policy that details of a special session should be worked out before one is called, to avoid the unnecessary expense of a lengthy session.
Williams said the House won't get to influence a Senate plan, and vice versa. ''It's up to Jody and the House leadership,'' he said. ''We can do a redistricting that I think will please most members of the Senate.''
''Most'' could be all but a handful of the 38 senators and 100 House members, said House Majority Whip Joe Barrows, DVersailles.
Because the House must approve the Senate plan and the governor has veto power, Barrows said, ''Republicans cannot pass a plan that looks out for their own political interest and does grave damage to Democrats. That forces things back to saying, 'What's wrong with trying to draw a plan that gets 32 or 35 folks happy in the Senate, and what's wrong with trying to draw a plan that gets 78 to 85 folks happy in the House?' ''
Barrows said congressional redistricting could prove trickier, partly because Republicans appear committed to a plan moving Oldham County from the 4th District to the 3rd District, which now includes all but the southern and eastern edges of Jefferson County.
The plan was drafted by the five Kentucky Republicans in the U.S. House. The only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation, 4th District Rep. Ken Lucas of Union, says he considers the matter a state issue for the legislature to decide.
Senate President David Williams, left: ''I believe everyone will agree (our plan) is one of the most fair.'' Gov. Paul Patton moderated his stance on what is needed for him to call a special session.
One person, one vote is the foundation of our democratic republic. Although they use words that sound like that phrase, Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, and Frankfort Democrats are putting what is best for Kentucky behind their selfish political interests.
State Sen. Scorsone is the Democrats' point man for redistricting in Kentucky and his first action was to follow the handbook of the Democratic National Committee. He held a press conference and called for the Census Bureau to base Kentucky's population on ''adjusted figures.'' The new numbers would be based on statistical models rather than the actual head count the Census Bureau conducted last year.
The truth is the 2000 Census was, by all reports, the most accurate in American history. By mounting a Herculean effort to count every American, the census mailed to every address, visited apartments, traveled down farm roads and up mountain hollows. In the end, the census provided an amazingly accurate head count of our population. In fact, the 2000 Census is estimated be 99 percent accurate. But now Frankfort Democrats want the count adjusted. What Scorsone and the Frankfort Democrats fail to tell you is that according to experts, such as Professor Ron Crouch from the University of Louisville, Kentuckians were no more undercounted than people in other states. In fact, in all probability, Kentucky's undercount was less than most other states.
The truth is Sen. Scorsone and the Frankfort Democrats are generating false hope if they are leading people to believe that simply obtaining adjusted numbers will increase the amount of federal money Kentucky will receive for social programs.
Any decision on the use of adjusted numbers to determine federal funding of programs is a decision that will ultimately be made in Washington, D.C. and applied uniformly to every state. If 50,000 people are added to Kentucky's population, then accordingly, California will receive close to a half a million new people. With the amount of federal funds available for distribution being relatively static, it's very unlikely that by using adjusted numbers Kentucky would gain any new federal dollars.
This is the first time Frankfort Democrats have disputed the census information provided to the General Assembly, and it's no coincidence. The real issue here is that Frankfort Democrats are using stalling tactics in an attempt to gain a political advantage to block redistricting. Democrats want the complete control over the redistricting process they've enjoyed for 200 years, and they can't have it because the Re publican majority in the state Senate will not be shut out of the process.
No other state has ever used adjusted numbers for the purpose of redrawing legislative district lines.
While the Frankfort Democrats stall, nearly 3 million Kentuckians live in districts that are in violation of Constitutional guidelines for ''one person, one vote.'' For Frankfort Democrats, one party control is more important than fair representation.
We urge all Kentuckians to call and write Gov. Paul Patton and the Frankfort Democrats to remind them that it's time to redistrict our state according to law and to get on with the people's business.''
Sen. David L. Williams, R-Burkesville, is president the Kentucky Senate.
The redrawing of legislative boundaries to reflect new population figures is shaping up, once again, as an extraordinarily contentious undertaking for the General Assembly.
Democrats on Wednesday called for federal officials to release estimated census figures from statistical sampling. It is a technique to counter what they view as a flaw of a straight head count ů the žundercountingÓ of some population groups, including the homeless, rural poor and undocumented aliens.
The census žshould be an accurate snapshot of our nation, one that captures all the racial, ethnic and social diversity that makes our society strong,Ó Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, said in a news conference.
The Senate's top leader said later that Democrats want to buy time. žThis is all subterfuge to put off redistricting,Ó Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, told the interim joint State Government Committee.
Democrats hope to undo the GOP's 20-18 Senate majority in next year's elections. Mr. Williams said Democrats then would draw district boundaries to favor themselves and punish Republicans.
Justice Investigating Pending Louisville-Jefferson Merger
April 11, 2001
New census figures indicate that blacks will not be as well-represented in the merged Louisville and Jefferson County government as merger supporters had promised, and the U.S. Justice Department is investigating. The department is investigating whether the pending merger violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting black representation. Local civil-rights activists say they have been interviewed by Justice Department lawyers three to four times since the Nov. 7 election at which merger was approved. The Justice Department also has contacted the Legislative Research Commission in Frankfort as a prelude to interviewing state representatives and senators who promoted the legislation that allowed the merger vote. A Justice Department spokeswoman in Washington confirmed Tuesday that the investigation was under way, but she declined to say when it would be completed or what the outcome might be.
Louisville lawyer Sheryl Snyder, a volunteer legal adviser to the pro-merger forces last year, predicted that the issue will not be decided before late next year. "We're probably going to have to wait until the elections occur and see how many minorities are elected," he said. Voters go to the polls Nov. 5, 2002. Merger supporters said six of the new government's 26 council districts would have black majorities. But that was based on 1990 census figures. A preliminary review of the 2000 census numbers suggests that there will be no more than three predominately black districts, according to the person the state legislature assigned to draw the districts, University of Louisville geography professor Bill Dakan. Dakan also was the source of a district map based on the 1990 census figures that showed six majority black districts. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act bans "election-related practices and procedures that are intended to be racially discriminatory," as well as "those that are shown to have a racially discriminatory impact."
Several leaders who promoted merger - including Mayor Dave Armstrong, county Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson and state Reps. Mary Lou Marzian and Larry Clark - said that they have not heard from the Justice Department, but that it was not their intention to dilute black voting strength. Clark, the Democratic House speaker pro tem and the major force behind getting the merger legislation approved, said it is Dakan's responsibility to make sure there are six black districts. "It's up to Dr. Dakan to keep the integrity of the 26 districts in place, as they were presented," Clark said. Dakan could not be reached for comment. But he said previously that the county's population has shifted more dramatically out of the city and to the east than he had projected.
Raoul Cunningham said he and other civil-rights activists have met with Justice Department lawyer Kristen Clarke four times since November, but he's still not sure where the investigation is headed. "If we had our druthers, merger would be null and void," said Cunningham, state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's national voter fund. Others who have met with Clarke include the Rev. Louis Coleman of the Justice Resource Center, Joseph McMillan of Kentucky Rainbow/Push and Alice Wade and Anne Braden of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Coleman said he and McMillan filed a complaint with the Justice Department shortly before voters approved merger because they feared it would pass. The Justice Department is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and can bring lawsuits against states and local jurisdictions to address violations.