New maps for Kentucky’s House, Senate, Congressional, and Supreme Court districts were given final passage Saturday, sending them to the governor.
The General Assembly moved one of their legislative days to Saturday in order to pass the redistricting maps quickly, as changes impact the 2022 elections and is the candidates eligible to run in new districts.
The legislature is constitutionally required to rebalance the district maps based on most recent census data, and legislative leaders have noted there have been dramatic population shifts over the last 10 years in Kentucky.
House Bill 2, the House redistricting plan, sought to meet all constitutional requirements, while also pitting few incumbents against each other. However, there will be some match ups among current representatives as a result of the maps.
Republican incumbents Norma Kirk McCormick and Bobby McCool will see their districts overlap in a way that will cause them to run against each other in eastern Kentucky, while fellow GOP representatives in western Kentucky, Jim Gooch and Lynn Bechler, face a similar issue.
Two sets of Louisville Democratic incumbents, Mary Lou Marzian and Josie Raymond, as well as Lisa Wilner and Makenzie Cantrell, will also see this issue.
The Senate redistricting bill, Senate Bill 2, does not pit any incumbents against each other but does make some significant changes, especially in areas that have experienced the most population growth.
The bill makes changes to the 12th District in Fayette County, where there is currently a competitive GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr. The proposed district would now mean that two of the individuals running in that primary would no longer reside in the district, making them ineligible to represent the area.
Another notable change is in the 7th District, where first term incumbent Adrienne Southworth would keep her home county of Anderson, but exchanges Franklin, Owen, Gallatin and Woodford for Shelby, Henry and a portion of Jefferson. Franklin, Owen and Gallatin would move to Senate District 20, currently held by the retiring Sen. Paul Hornback.
Senate Bill 3, the new Congressional map, shifts the 1st District, represented by Congressman James Comer, to stretch from Fulton County in the West to Clinton County in the East and also include areas up to Franklin and Anderson counties.
And Rep. Andy Barr’s 6th District would no longer include Franklin County, but instead would be comprised of the Lexington area and more of eastern Kentucky, due to population shifts.
House Bill 179, sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, seeking to change the maps for Kentucky Supreme Court districts also passed Saturday.
Each time Kentucky undertakes redistricting, there are typically legal challenges to the new maps. Anticipating this hurdle, the legislature also passed Senate Bill 20, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, which would change the current process, wherein the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court names a three-judge panel to hear redistricting challenges. Stivers has also said his bill addresses concerns from some members of the legal community, who suggested the three-judge panel potentially could potentially violate Kentucky’s Constitution.
All of the redistricting plans now move to the governor’s desk, where the bills will either receive his signature or veto. If he vetoes the plans, the legislature will have the opportunity to override those vetoes. Following that, there is the possibility for court challenges.
Because of all of these changes and the way they will impact the 2022 elections, House Bill 172, giving prospective candidates added time to file for office because of new redistricting maps, passed the Senate Thursday and was then signed by Gov. Andy Beshear. Sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy, HB 172 moves the filing deadline for all state and local candidates seeking office in 2022 from January 7 to January 25. Rudy has said he bill will only apply to the elections being held this year and the new date will remain in effect unless further action is taken by the legislature, even if there are court challenges to the redistricting maps.
Other legislation not related to redistricting also made progress on Saturday. Senate Bill 1, an education bill to provide superintendents with the authority to select principals and curriculum in consultation with site-based decision-making councils, passed the Senate 25-9. It now moves to the House for a hearing in committee and then a vote on the floor.
The General Assembly is set to reconvene on Monday to continue legislative work. Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for updates throughout the 2022 session.