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House, Senate appear close on congressional redistricting plan

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — House and Senate negotiators appear close to an agreement on new boundaries for Kentucky’s six congressional districts.

“We have a map that shows great promise,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo said late Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said the Senate has had “little time to analyze anything” from the House, but “hope springs eternal.”

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the staff of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, has been instrumental in helping the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-led Senate come to a consensus after weeks of negotiations.

Senate leaders were looking at a proposed map after the chamber adjourned Thursday evening. If the Senate agrees to the new map, it’s possible for the legislature to approve the plan before the Feb. 7 filing deadline for congressional candidates.

‘Some movement’ on congressional redistricting

FRANKFORT – The state House and Senate still have not reached a compromise on the redrawing of boundaries for Kentucky’s six congressional districts, but House Speaker Greg Stumbo appeared more optimistic Thursday that the two sides could reach an agreement.

“I think there’s at least some movement,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

He said the House has offered another compromise plan to Republican Senate leaders. That plan specifically addressed some concerns of Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, Stumbo said. Rogers’ district includes most of Eastern and Central Kentucky.

The filing deadline for candidates is Jan. 31, but lawmakers could extend the deadline to give the two sides more time to hammer out an agreement.

Stumbo said he met and talked with Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers about the congressional map on Thursday morning, although no meeting has been set between leaders of the two chambers to produce a new congressional map.

Stivers, R-Manchester, said negotiations are “going slowly.”

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

Battle over redrawing Kentucky’s congressional districts on hold until Monday

UPDATED AT 1:13 P.M.

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – The state House and Senate adjourned Friday until Monday without approving a bill to redraw boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts.

The lack of action means the Jan. 31 filing deadline for candidates for U.S. Congress may have to be extended.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he thinks Monday would be the last day for the legislature to act on House Bill 2, the congressional redistricting bill, without changing the filing deadline.

Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the Jan. 31 filing deadline for legislative and state Supreme Court candidates should stay in effect if Gov. Steve Beshear signs into law on Friday a bill already approved by the legislature to redraw those districts.

House gives final approval to controversial legislative redistricting bill

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The state House sent to Gov. Steve Beshear a controversial legislative redistricting bill Thursday that would move the district of Democratic State Sen. Kathy Stein from Lexington to northeastern Kentucky.

House Bill 1, approved on a 58-39 vote, redraws the boundaries of all 100 House districts and 38 Senate districts. It also redistricts the state’s seven Supreme Court districts.

Beshear is expected to sign it into law, though Stein’s supporters were lobbying for a veto. The Democratic governor had nothing to say about the bill on Thursday.

The House did not agree with the Senate on a plan to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts. A conference committee made up of representatives from both chambers started meeting Thursday afternoon to negotiate a compromise on House Bill 2 but finished about 5 p.m. without any resolution. It is to resume negotiations Friday.

House and Senate prepare to fight over Kentucky’s congressional map

By Beth Musgrave
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The Republican-led state Senate approved its plan to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts late Wednesday, setting up a fight with the Democratic-led House in coming days over the contentious political issue.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo said the House will not accept the Senate’s plan, which means leaders from both chambers will have to hash out their differences in a conference committee. Stumbo said he is hopeful the two sides can strike a deal on House Bill 2, which includes the congressional map, by the end of Friday.

Time is running out to reach an agreement. The filing deadline for candidates to seek state and federal offices is Jan. 31. If an agreement is not worked out by the end of this week, the legislature may have to push back the filing deadline.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown, chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, said the Senate’s congressional map does not differ greatly from the current congressional map.

Plan would put Hal Rogers’ home county in two congressional districts

PDF: House plan for congressional districts

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — A state House committee voted along party lines Thursday to split the home county of Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset into two congressional districts as it redraws the boundaries of Kentucky’s six districts.

The plan contained in House Bill 2 also moves Boyle, Garrard and part of Jessamine counties from Central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District to south-central Kentucky’s 2nd District.

It also makes Northern Kentucky’s 4th District a more urban district and moves Daviess County from the 2nd District to the 1st District.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, acknowledged after the House State Government Committee approved the bill that it is likely to change before becoming law.

“I assume it will go through some vigorous debate and likely transformation,” he said.

Proposals to redraw Ky. congressional districts would bring big changes

By Beth Musgrave and Jack Brammer
bmusgrave@herald-leader.com

PDF: View the proposals

FRANKFORT — Two new proposals to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts could mean major changes for Central Kentucky voters.

Both plans appear to benefit Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who represents Lexington and many surrounding counties in the 6th Congressional District.

The proposals — one pushed by the Democratic-controlled House and another by unnamed members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation — would move Republican-leaning Jessamine and Garrard counties out of Chandler’s district, replacing them with counties that lean more Democratic.

Republican Andy Barr, a Lexington lawyer who narrowly lost to Chandler in 2010 and plans to challenge him again in 2012, said Tuesday that the emerging plans amount to “incumbent-protection gerrymandering for a weak incumbent.”

Census: A lot of Kentuckians will get a new congressman

By Bill Estep – bestep@herald-leader.com

A lot of Kentuckians are going to get new representatives in the U.S. House because of significant shifts in the state’s population.

The eastern and western ends of the state lost population between 2000 and 2010 while the middle third grew, according to U.S. Census figures released this week.

Three of the state’s six congressional districts fall short of the necessary population, while the other three are over it.

The national average for a U.S. House District will be 710,767.

However, the target number will vary by state; dividing Kentucky’s population of 4.3 million by six seats means a population target for each district of about 723,000.

Keeping Kentucky in the spotlight

David Adams, Rand Paul’s campaign manager through July and currently campaign manager for Phil Moffett, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, says he expects the Tea Party spotlight to stay on Kentucky through the 2011 elections. Paul’s quick victory in the Senate race was not surprising as he said, “This was over before […]

Rep. Ron Lewis quit, then spent campaign funds

U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis spent more than $60,000 in campaign funds last year not running for re-election.

In the months after Lewis, R-Cecilia, dropped out of the race, his campaign paid for restaurant meals, catering, hotels, flowers, Christmas cards, gifts for friends, cell phones, car fuel and maintenance, photography and $13,000 “loyalty awards” for a top aide, among other expenses.

Federal elections law allows departing members of Congress to tap their campaign funds for certain expenses even after they’ve ended their campaigns — and some do. U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., abandoned his re-election bid in July and since has spent about $4,000 in campaign donations on Washington meals and airline tickets.

However, the law prohibits congressmen from diverting donations for their “personal use,” which raises questions about whether an expensive steak dinner, for instance, was for work or pleasure.