Lawmakers running out of time on redistricting session

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, November 10, 2021

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While the majority Republican leadership in the General Assembly have been saying for months they hoped to hold a special session to address legislative and Congressional redistricting, they now admit it could be difficult, with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approaching.

“I think it’s still possible,” said House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect.  “Clearly we are running tight on time at this point, but I do think it is still possible.”

Redistricting is done every 10 years, after the census data is released, but the problem in 2021 is that release was delayed several times, and Osborne told reporters Wednesday he was not ready to say when the redrawn maps might be ready.

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“It’s a mathematical formula that takes a lot of thought and takes a lot of hard work and effort,” he said.  “To rush it would be inappropriate, and to not have it out there when it’s ready would also not be the most appropriate thing.  If we don’t do it in a special session, then I would anticipate us taking it up the first week of the regular session.”

Osborne noted they waited until the first week of the 2012 session to approve a plan, but there is an additional consideration now.  The filing deadline for state House and Senate seats didn’t used to be until the end of January, but that was changed in 2019 to the first Friday following the first Monday in January.  In 2022, that would mean Jan. 7, which is during the first week of the regular session.

“If it’s not settled until we come in the regular session, we would then have to enact legislation delaying the filing deadline,” Osborne said.  “We want to make sure everyone has adequate time to know what district they’re in and make the decisions they need to make.”

Osborne would not comment on the possibility of incumbents having to run against each other until the maps are complete.

House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, said she doesn’t think a special session is an option anymore.

“Two weeks from tomorrow is Thanksgiving, then we have Christmas,” she said.  “I think it’s important for the majority to offer their map publicly, so folks have a chance to look at them and weigh in on them.  This is a decision that is going to affect how Kentucky voters vote for 10 years.  I don’t think it should be rushed.  I think it should be transparent and I think we are running out of time for that to happen prior to session.”