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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.

Kentucky House approves plan to redraw congressional districts

PDF: House plan for congressional districts

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

FRANKFORT — The state House split mostly along party lines Tuesday in approving a bill to redraw the boundaries of Kentucky’s six congressional districts.

Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House protested that House Bill 2 was designed to protect Democratic U.S. Reps. Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth.

The bill now goes to the Republican-led Senate, where it is expected to undergo major changes.

“Absolutely, the Senate will change the House version to make the new map more like the current map,” said Senate State Government Chairman Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.

If the Senate changes the House plan “in a positive manner, we certainly will take a look at it,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “If the Senate chooses to change it in a political manner, I doubt it would meet very much success over here. We would just have to do without a plan.”

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.

Election Preview: Northern Ky.’s 4th Congressional District

By Halimah Abdullah – habdulla@mcclatchydc.com

WASHINGTON — The contest in Northern Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District pits a well-funded, conservative incumbent against a little-known, considerably more progressive Iraq War veteran.

U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron, seems to be sailing toward a fourth term with $1.1 million raised as of the June campaign finance filing deadline. Much of that money was donated by health professionals and the insurance industry.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger John Waltz, a political newcomer from Florence, raised roughly $250,000 during the same period.

Waltz was inspired to run for the congressional seat, he said, after he received no help from Davis’ office in seeking veteran’s health benefits.

Ky. lawmakers say Canadian plan could decimate burley market

By Halimah Abdullah – habdullah@mcclatchydc.comU.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville

WASHINGTON — Kentucky burley tobacco farmers and the state’s congressional delegation are seeing smoke over a plan by the Canadian government to ban fruit and bubble gum flavors and other similar additives in cigarettes and cigarillos.

The lawmakers and the roughly 8,100 Kentucky farmers who cultivate burley tobacco say the proposal, designed to curb youth smoking, would decimate the market for American air-cured burley tobacco, which is used to make most of Canada’s cigarettes.

“One of the biggest things it does is it effectively bans almost all flavoring used in products other than menthol,” said Joe Cain, director of national affairs for the Kentucky Farm Bureau. “Where it becomes important to Kentuckians is that American blend cigarettes are about 25 percent burley. Burley gives it texture and body, but it’s bitter and kind of harsh. It needs that flavoring to take the edge off of it.”

Many growers and their supporters feel their industry is under political assault and are still reeling from last week’s congressional passage of legislation that gives the Food and Drug Administration regulatory powers over tobacco.

Ky. lawmakers linked to lobbying firm under investigation

WASHINGTON — Several Kentucky lawmakers, including Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, helped secure millions in earmarks for clients of PMA, a lobbying firm under federal investigation for contributing to the campaigns of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., and other lawmakers.

According to data compiled by the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense and analyzed by Congressional Quarterly, Chandler helped PMA clients net $2.4 million in defense earmarks. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron, helped the firm’s clients receive $6.8 million in earmarks.