Wednesday, January 23, 2002

House plan divides yet another Ky. county

By Charles Wolfe
Associated Press Writer

        FRANKFORT, Ky. — A House committee dominated by Democrats voted Tuesday to approve a new version of a redistricting bill. Its apportionment of Kentucky House districts would divide 27 counties, four more than absolutely necessary.

        By contrast, a plan drawn up by the Republican minority would divide the minimum 23 counties. An ideal House district would have 40,418 residents — 1 percent of the Kentucky population.

        The Democratic plan contains three districts that exceed the ideal by more than the 5-percent deviation courts have established.

        House Speaker Jody Richards, the plan's main sponsor, said the main characteristic is that the difference in population between largest district and smallest is no more than 10 percent.

        “We think it will pass muster,” Mr. Richards told the State Government Committee, defending the divisions. “The counties don't cooperate sometimes and divide themselves into neat packages of 40,000” residents.

        The Democratic plan would divide six small counties between districts — Rowan, Wolfe, Spencer, Harlan, Letcher and Trigg. The original Democratic House plan divided 26 counties; Wolfe was added to the list in the version made public Tuesday.

        The Democratic plan would potentially pit six House incumbents, five of them Republicans, against each other.

        In Jefferson County, Republicans Bob Heleringer and Ron Crimm would be in the same district. In southeastern Kentucky, Republicans Johnny Turner of Harlan and Brandon Smith of Hazard would share a district, as would Republican Howard Cornett of Whitesburg and Ira Branham of Pikeville.

        Mr. Branham, however, does not intend to seek re-election. Mr. Turner said Tuesday he would not run for another House term if the current plan was enacted.


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