Frankfort Local News

Republicans Follow Through With Lawsuit Over House Redistricting Map

Several Kentucky House Republican shave followed through on their threats to file a legal challenge to new legislative district lines.

The Republicans filed the lawsuit and request for an injunction in Franklin County Circuit Court today. And because of the injunction request, they will go before Judge Phillip Sheppard on Monday morning.

“We have been saying for a couple of weeks now that not only was it unfair to the people of Kentucky,” says House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover. “Not only did it disenfranchise a lot of folks in Kentucky, but it was unconstitutional and that is the basis of the lawsuit. It violates section 33 of the constitution.”

The suit also includes Republican state Representatives Kim King and Joe Fischer.  It was filed against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief elections officer, because the lawmakers hope to delay elections for the new districts.

And Fischer, who has filed three previous lawsuits against redistricting in decades past, says this case is the strongest he’s ever had.

“So we’ve got division of fewest counties, one person one vote and the contiguous argument that we didn’t have in my lawsuit [in the 1990s],” Fischer said. “So I look for this to be a very strong argument to the court.”

It is unclear whether Senate Democrats will join the lawsuit. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has defended the House map as constitutional.

Frankfort Local News

Charter School Advocates Release Second TV Ad

Sensing their time is coming, advocates of charter schools in Kentucky are doubling down on their efforts.

One such group, Kentuckians for Reform in Education, or KARE, is out with their second TV advertisement supporting charter schools. KARE is run by former Louisville mayoral candidate Hal Heiner, and the ad is running statewide on network and cable TV. It follows an advertising push from the beginning of this month. 

Frankfort Local News

Congressional Redistricting Compromise Stalls, Filing Deadline May Be Moved

Talks have broken down over new Congressional redistricting lines, Kentucky lawmakers say.

A conference committee tasked with reach a compromise on new federal districts had no discussions over the weekend or today. And House Speaker Greg Stumbo says both the House and Senate are blaming each other for the lack of progress.

“Well if you asked me, I’d say it’s because of the Senate,” says Stumbo. “And if you asked somebody in the Senate they’d say it’s cause of the House. The House has presented a major concession to the Senate. The Senate has yet to return that favor. And their idea of a major concession was a county or two.”

With no deal on the table, Stumbo says the filing deadline for Congressional candidates will need to be moved.

“I think we’re probably to the point that even if we could get it done in the next two to three days that the filing deadline would have to be pushed back,” he says.

Stumbo says legislative and judicial candidates will not have their filing deadlines moved back, since their districts have already been drawn.


Frankfort Local News

House Passes New Districts, While Hoover Leaves Open Possibility of Court Challenge

After two hours of heated debate, the Kentucky House of Representatives has approved new district lines. House Bill 1 passed 63-34 with only two representatives not voting.

Many Republicans took to the floor to argue against the plan, calling it ugly politics. There are nine Republican members who will have to run against one another under the new redistricting map, and nearly all of them took to the floor to argue against the bill.

But House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, maintained there aren’t any malicious ideas behind the new plan.

“Nothing that’s contained in this bill is done with any intent or malice,” Stumbo said on the floor. “Nothing in this bill is done to be blatantly unfair to any person. Nothing in this bill is done to do anything other than what we’re charged with doing and that is to redistrict every ten years and stay within the confines of the law.”

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Barr Blasts House Redistricting Plan

Republican congressional candidate Andy Barr is criticizing Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, over the a redistricting plan that passed the lower chamber Tuesday.

The GOP challenger is running against U.S. Ben Chandler, D-Ky., in a rematch from 2010, where the Lexington attorney lost by razor-thin margin of less than 700 votes.

Barr says the Democratic-controlled state House passed a “politically-motivated gerrymandering” plan that is designed to protect the incumbent.

“While most Kentuckians are worried about finding or keeping their jobs, Ben Chandler is obviously more concerned about protecting his own job by promoting an incumbent-protection scheme that removes tens of thousands of central Kentucky voters from the 6th Congressional District,” he says.


Kentucky House Redistricting Plan Hits Road Block

The Kentucky House of Representatives has hit a road block while drawing new district lines for state lawmakers.

After planning to release and vote on a new House redistricting map first thing this week, chamber leaders had to delay a committee meeting until tomorrow at the earliest.

It appears not all members, Republicans or Democrats, are happy  with the plan. That’s not uncommon in redistricting, which tends to get personal for lawmakers drawn into districts that are more difficult to win in elections.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s taking comments from legislators on the plan until the last minute.

“We’re still asking members to bring us plans,” he says. “We’re still talking to some of the minority members about, you know, what their preferences are. I sent an e-mail to them, I haven’t gotten the plan back from them, but we did ask them to participate. So we’re trying to get as much input as we can on just the Congressional plan.”

Stumbo still plans to get the new map of federal congressional districts passed off the House floor and sent to the state Senate later this week. But he wasn’t as firm on a date to finish the House districts, even saying it could be pushed back one year if the Congressional maps are passed.


Beshear Proposes Tax Commission, Lt. Gov. Abramson to Chair

After weeks of hinting about tax reform, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has provided some details.

The governor announced the creation of a blue ribbon tax commission tonight in Lexington and the annual Chamber Day dinner put on by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

In a news release, Beshear says Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson will be the chair of the new commission, and the commission’s main focus will be to raise revenue.

Beshear did not name any other members of the commission. They will be appointed at a later date.

The tax commission was a major platform of Republican Senate President David Williams, who ran against Beshear in last year’s gubernatorial race.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has signaled he is open to tax reform, but he wants a clear purpose for any attempts to change the tax code. For years, various members of the General Assembly have proposed their own tax reform options.

The commission will hold public meetings, but won’t present any legislation until next year’s General Assembly session.

Frankfort Local News

Legislative Leaders Want to Ward Off Gridlock, Say 2012 Session Has ‘Potential’

The 2012 Kentucky General Assembly is starting its 60-day budget session with a long list of issues to work out.

The highlights are obvious: gambling, the budget, and redrawing congressional districts. But lawmakers must also figure out how to shore up the state’s unemployment insurance and deal with Medicaid managed care problems. And there are always pet projects, like the debate over the cold remedy and meth ingredient pseudophedrine, various constitutional amendments and more.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, has a solution for the starting the session and avoiding gridlock: don’t argue over things that won’t be solved.

“I think that we would all be better served if we find things we can agree upon and try and keep our fights to a very minimum. I think that’s what the people of Kentucky and the people of America wants us to do,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Beshear Orders Review of Proposal to Add University of Pikeville to State System

After two prominent eastern Kentucky leaders pushed for the private University of Pikeville to become a state-supported institution, Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that a study on the feasibility of adding the college to the state system will begin immediately.

Over the past few weeks, former Governor Paul Patton, who is now president of UPIKE, joined House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestongsburg, in lobbying for the change, which could come during the upcoming General Assembly and take effect fall 2012.

But other university officials said adding another school to the system was a major policy decision that required more study.

In a news release, Beshear says he will request proposals this week to hire a consultant who will conduct the study and review a variety of issues such as educational needs in eastern Kentucky, economic impact of including Pikeville University and the impact of the proposal on the existing system of state universities.

“The University of Pikeville meets a regional need for quality education in Appalachia, and the school’s growth illustrates its potential as an economic driver in the area. Universities are economic drivers in their regions, producing well-educated and trained students who are prepared to enter the workforce,” he says.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Beshear Will Bring Up Gaming in 2012 Session

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says casino gambling will be on the agenda for next year’s legislative session and voters have delivered a clear message for lawmakers to work with him on the issue.

The governor was in Louisville Thursday, speaking at the 92nd annual Kentucky Farm Bureau meeting.

Previous efforts to get the proposal through the legislature have failed in large part due to the opposition of Senate Republicans, led by state Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, who lost to Beshear in the general election by 25-points.

Beshear says he will revive his push for expanded gaming and he hopes his re-election victory sends opponents of the measure a message.

“I think the biggest message it sent was that folks want the legislature to work with me. They want us to work together and move the state forward. I think that most folks out there are ready to vote on expanded gaming. That’s obviously one of the big differences between myself and my opponent in the November election. I’m hopeful that folks will say, ‘Look, it’s time.’ Let’s get this behind us, one way or the other,” he says.