Kentucky lawmakers have been unable to agree on new congressional boundaries, a task which is mandated by the federal government once every decade.
The stalemate has leading lawmakers talking about pushing back the January 31 filing deadline for Kentucky’s six seats in the U.S. House. Negotiations between the Kentucky Senate and House will not resume until Monday.
“We'll right now every thing's on the table, so it's a moving puzzle,” Rep. Greg Stumbo, D-House Speaker said Friday. Stumbo claims the House has offered the Senate a “major compromise” on the congressional map, but the upper chamber hasn’t budged much.
The plan proposed by the Republican controlled Senate mirrors the current boundaries more than the map first offered by the Democrat run House. "Most people, if this map is adopted will wake up the next day and have their same congressman,” said Senator Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, the main architect of the Senate plan.
Stumbo claims the major sticking points are not because of disagreements over how to shape one district. Among the differences mentioned by lawmakers have been whether Owensboro and Daviess County will stay in the 2nd district or be moved to the 1st. The shape of the 5th (southeast and eastern Kentucky) and the 6th (central Kentucky) also appear to be under intense discussion.
Democrats have offered a plan which would shift the 5th, a GOP stronghold, northeast to include Ashland. Stumbo confirmed that he talked with veteran U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, a Republican, Thursday night. Asked how the conversation went Stumbo said “that wasn’t very good. He wasn’t a happy camper.”
Stumbo says time is running out to meet the looming filing deadline “I would think Monday would be the last day to have it enacted to not move the filing deadline."
Meanwhile, the controversial new district lines for state Senators and Representatives are now final. Governor Steve Beshear signed that redistricting bill into law Friday, citing the approaching deadline.
Beshear said the maneuver to re-district Lexington Democrat Senator Kathy Stein out of office at the end of the year “goes beyond partisanship.” In a written statement Beshear claimed “it reflects a personal vindictiveness that should have no place in this process.”
Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, claimed in a statement that Beshear doesn’t have “any evidence to support his allegation.”
He said the governor “should have the courage of his convictions to veto the plan.”
Stein told ABC36 News late Friday that she has not decided whether to challenge the redistricting legislation in court. Stein says she has been flooded with emails from citizens upset with how she was treated in the process.
Beshear said a “non-partisan, citizen-based group” should be created to participate in redistricting in the future.
In 2013 and 2014 Stein’s constituents in downtown Lexington will be represented by a Democrat lawmaker who lives 200 miles away in Henderson.