By Jack Brammer
By Jack Brammer — email@example.com
FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear hopes to determine within about a week when to call a special legislative session to redraw the boundaries of state House and Senate districts.
Beshear, after meeting for about an hour Monday behind closed doors in his Capitol office with Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, said that they are “working on a set of ground rules” for a special session and “are already looking at their calendars for a date” for it.
Only the governor can call a special session and set its agenda. The legislature determines how long one will last.
Beshear and the legislative leaders want a special session to run for only five days. That’s the minimum needed to make a law. The session will cost taxpayers about $65,000 a day.
Two federal lawsuits have been filed that seek legislative redistricting.
A suit filed April 26 by several Northern Kentucky officials and residents want the court to force lawmakers to draw new legislative districts or allow a federal court to draw the boundaries.
In early May, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a lawsuit against the state over the legislature’s failure to pass a constitutional legislative redistricting plan based on the 2010 U.S. census.
The General Assembly passed a legislative redistricting plan last year, but the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional.
Beshear said Monday, with Stumbo and Stivers at his side, “All three of us feel strongly that this is the legislature’s responsibility and they are the ones to redistrict at all levels. We are going to make sure that happens.”
“We want to draw the boundaries in the Senate,” said Stivers, R-Manchester. Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the House wants the same for its chamber. Each chamber traditionally accepts the other’s redrawings.
One issue Stumbo and Stivers have to resolve is whether the legislature should count federal prisoners when it considers population figures for redistricting.
Redistricting is done every decade to reflect population changes in the U.S. Census. The House drew Congressional and judicial district boundaries last year that counted federal prisoners but left them out this year in its maps for legislative districts.