Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne (R-Prospect) revealed the plan to redraw districts following analysis of 2020 census data. Representative Jerry Miller (R-Louisville) is expected to file a redistricting bill on Tuesday, January 4, when legislators return to Frankfort for the 2022 Regular Session. Osborne suggested that the General Assembly would meet through Saturday, January 8, to pass the legislation.
“Drafting this plan did, quite frankly, include some very difficult realizations,” said Speaker Osborne. “As we know, there has been dramatic population shifts in Kentucky, and because of those population shifts, this plan did have districts that had to be combined.”
Kentucky cities continued over the past decade to grow more quickly than unincorporated areas of the commonwealth, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August.
Osborne described efforts to keep communities together and prevent dividing precincts among multiple House districts. Planners also considered geography when mapping so that districts included regional commonality. He pointed to the current design of District 21 as stretching from the Tennessee border to Louisville as the type of situation this effort looked to prevent.
Osborne said this plan complies with the Voting Rights Act and all other legal and constitutional requirements.
The new boundaries would result in four Democratic representatives and four Republican representatives falling within the same district. Representative Norma Kirk-McCormick (R-Inez) and Representative Bobby McCool (R-Van Lear) would overlap, as would Representative Lynn Bechler (R-Marion) and Representative Jim Gooch (R-Providence). Democratic Representatives Mary Lou Marzian (D-Louisville) and Josie Raymond (D-Louisville) would vie for the same seat, and Representative McKenzie Cantrell (D-Louisville) and Representative Lisa Willner (D-Louisville) would end up in the same district as well.
“With consideration of the time, the diligence, and the effort that has gone into this map, I think it unlikely that you will see wholesale changes,” Osborne said.
He insisted that anyone who questions any district look at the impact their proposed change would have upon the entire state. Osborne said drafters discussed many alternatives, but the issue created a uniquely difficult set of circumstances by which to create a fair map that adheres to the law.
Representative Miller said he consulted with maps drawn by the League of Women Voters and had conversations with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) when designing the maps.
Osborne said the plan creates new Louisville area Districts 40 and 44, representing population shifts and creating districts with minority voter majority. They are two of four districts that would have a minority population majority, including Districts 42 and 43. Additionally, Osborne said Districts 30 and 70 would have an increased minority influence.
Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins (D-Shively), Minority Caucus Chair Derrick Graham (D-Frankfort), and Minority Whip Angie Hatton (D-Whitesburg) released a statement: “What we saw today from Republican House leaders is an attempt at fake transparency. If they were sincere, they would have not released their redistricting plan on a state holiday and without the detailed information the public needs.
Citizens and candidates alike won’t have that information online until late Tuesday, less than two days before the entire House votes. That gives them precious little time to absorb the many changes and then offer input, something that goes against the very hallmark of the legislative process.
We will be reviewing this map further with our caucus members and discussing whether the Republican map meets all legal and constitutional guidelines. We also are preparing an alternative that we believe will better serve the commonwealth.
It is vital to remember that whatever is ultimately decided will be in place for a decade. The last thing we should be doing as a legislature is rushing something so important and so long-lasting. Kentuckians deserve more time so we can get this right.”
While he did not share the maps or details on districts with Governor Andy Beshear, Osborne said he informed Beshear of the intention to publish the information soon and file the legislation on Tuesday.
Osborne expects to introduce a bill that extends the candidate filing deadline as well. That would allow candidates until January 25 to complete required paperwork to run for office.
Senate Leadership is drafting the redistricting maps for the Kentucky Senate and U.S. Congressional districts. That proposal is expected next week.