Redistricting bills cleared their first hurdles on the second day of the 2022 General Assembly. Committee passage paved the way for votes in the House and Senate on Thursday, keeping to the schedule set by leadership to finalize the legislation by Saturday, January 8. The House waived the second and third reading, then passed a bill to extend candidate filing deadlines.
Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson) introduced Senate Bill 2 on Tuesday. The proposal reapportions the state’s Senate districts according to 2020 Census data. He said the maps respond to dramatic population shifts across Kentucky. Mills pointed out that each district contains close to 118,574 residents, the ideal population calculated by the new Census data.
Under this plan, some districts will shift, and some communities will fall into multiple districts. Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) is the primary co-sponsor. “I believe it meets all of the requirements dictated by state and federal law and is about as fair as you can be in being proportional and not being punitive at all,” he said.
After some questioned the speedy pace, the committee passed Senate Bill 2 by an 8-2 vote. Members also passed Senate Bill 3 by the same vote ‒ the measure establishes the congressional redistricting plan. Stivers said the legislation redraws Kentucky’s six congressional districts into mathematically equal areas. “There is zero deviation under the federal guidelines,” he stated. “Which means that unlike ours (the Senate redistricting measure), where there’s a plus or minus 5%, they have zero deviation. So, these districts are numerically equal, plus or minus one person.”
The House Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee heard testimony on the House and Supreme Court redistricting proposals and a bill to extend the candidate filing deadline. “I’m very happy with this map,” said House Bill 2 sponsor Representative Jerry Miller (R-Louisville). “It was a hard slog. I knew people would not be happy at both ends of the state and both ends of the political spectrum, but this is a legal map, one that will withstand scrutiny.”
House Bill 2 redraws House district lines similar to the plan Republican leaders announced last week. The committee passed a committee substitute that Miller said moved two precincts out of a request from that community. He did not specify which precincts. The Committee passed the bill 13-3.
By a 15-1 vote, the committee passed House Bill 172. Representative Steven Rudy (R-Paducah) sponsored the bill to extend the filing deadline to January 25 to allow candidates time to file proper paperwork following the redistricting. This measure would apply to city candidates elected on a partisan basis or those running on a nonpartisan basis in cities that have not waived the primary election. All other city offices would retain the June 7, 2022, filing deadline.
Tuesday afternoon, the House passed HB 172 by a count of 84 to 12 which sends the legislation to the Senate for consideration.
Representative Jason Nemes (R-Louisville) testified on his proposal to redraw Kentucky Supreme Court districts, House Bill 179, which also cleared the committee.
The House adopted rule changes on Tuesday that impact the legislative schedule. Current procedure allows a three-fifths majority to approve a call of the “previous question,” which immediately ends debate and calls legislation for a vote. The prior rule provided ten minutes of debate after a call of the “previous question,” before a vote was taken. Limiting debate time could increase the number of bills the House addresses during the session.
Another House rule change expedites how quickly bills can move through committees. Representatives agreed that any legislation or resolution referred to a committee shall be considered eligible for consideration and action at the committee chair’s discretion. The new rule removes the requirement that a bill must be “posted” at least one day before a committee can vote on the measure.
The House is also allowing a committee chair to authorize remote voting. Previously, authorization was required by the Speaker or other presiding officer.
The Senate added a rule that no senator shall speak more than 15 minutes on any question or measure.