Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Senate Republican says redistricting plan done

By Mark R. Chellgren
The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Republican Sen. Albert Robinson has a plan for drawing new state Senate district boundaries, though he said it is not quite ready for public display.

        Democratic Sen. David Karem said some redistricting map will have to be laid on the table for all to see before serious negotiations can begin.

        And a House Democrat said redistricting will be harder in the lower chamber, with 100 districts and a court case that places severe restrictions on boundaries.

        The redistricting conundrum that threatens to sweep away any other meaningful business at the beginning of the 2002 General Assembly session shows no signs of being solved.

        Mr. Robinson, a veteran legislator from London who has been instrumental in redistricting in three decades and is chairman of the Senate State Government Committee, said Democrats have no reason to complain about the map he has drawn. Mr. Robinson said his map would not place any incumbent senators in districts with any other incumbents and divide the minimum number of counties.

        “The plan that I am working with is not vindictive whatsoever,” Mr. Robinson said. “If there was a question, naturally I would swing it to my own party.”

        Mr. Karem, the Senate Democratic floor leader from Louisville, said Mr. Robinson has consulted with other legislators, but no concrete proposal has been circulated for all to see.

        Republicans hold a slim 20-18 majority in the Senate.

        Rep. Joe Barrows of Versailles, the House Democratic whip, said the partisan disagreements are mimicked in House discussions over redistricting.

        Democrats hold a 65-34 majority in the House, with one vacancy pending Tuesday's special election.

        “We have as much trouble keeping Democrats happy in the House,” Mr. Barrows said.

        New legislative district boundaries must be drawn after every census in order to follow the constitutional mandate for equal representation. Population shifts in Kentucky could mean great political shifts as well.

        Republicans, who got their majority when two Democratic state senators switched parties two years ago, want to maintain that margin and insist there should be a special session on redistricting this year.


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