Legislative Update by C.B. Embry, Jr.
High Court Ruling Means Legislators Stay in Current Districts
FRANKFORT, Ky. – It appears the debate over redistricting, which has gripped much of the 2012 Legislative Session, has come to a conclusion at least for now. Last Friday’s ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court throwing out new district boundaries passed in January ends what has been a roller coaster of a ride for legislators and those of you we represent.
How we got here started in January when the House and Senate largely along party lines passed House Bill 1, which established new legislative district boundaries following the U.S. Census of 2010. This plan affected many of us in the House Republican Caucus and attempted to move some representatives to other counties by drawing half-mile wide paths through adjoining areas.
Based on previous court rulings, members of our caucus filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court which ruled based on population data and law governing the number of counties allowed to be split that HB 1 did not meet the requirements of the Kentucky Constitution. The majority leadership of the House and Senate appealed that ruling to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which after hearing arguments and reviewing information decided to uphold the lower court’s ruling and affirm that the new districts were unconstitutional.
What this means to you is that the district lines established the last time we passed redistricting in 2002 will remain in place for the upcoming election cycle, and more than likely we won’t begin the process of drawing new boundaries until the next session in 2013.
With redistricting behind us for this session, we can concentrate on other matters of importance to the Commonwealth. This past week we heard testimony on several proposals dealing with drugs and drug abuse in Kentucky. On Wednesday the House Judiciary Committee approved two bills, one that would ban the sale of so-called “synthetic marijuana” in Kentucky, and the other would more closely monitor pain management clinics in an attempt to crack down of those that operate more like “pill mills” then offering medical solutions to their patients.
Next week we expect to deal with Kentucky’s next two-year budget, which for all intensive purpose is equal to the cupboard being bare. The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee is scheduled to hear the budget bill on Tuesday, and depending on what happens the budget proposal could come up for a vote by the end of next week.
As always, I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached at home at (270) 526-6237, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. A taped message containing information on legislative committee meeting schedules is available by calling 1-800-633-9650, and information on the status of each bill is available by calling 1-866-840-2835. If you have Internet access, I can be reached at email@example.com, or you may keep track of legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.