FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 8, 2013) – When the 2013 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly gaveled into business in January, there was talk of a spirit of bipartisanship and working together for the betterment of the Commonwealth. That spirit seems dashed as we near the end of this session.
That was never more evident this week when the House once again tackled the topic of redistricting. It was the second attempt in the House after last year’s plan was found to be unconstitutional by the Kentucky Supreme Court, and there was hope in January that talk of bipartisanship would equate to drawing districts in a manner that is fair and equitable to all Kentuckians.
What happened instead was a plan that pits 11 House Republicans against each other, including three in my 17th District. While on the other side of the aisle only Democrat faces opposition against a representative from the House Republican caucus.
Questions abound about this latest version of House redistricting, which centers around the inclusion of numbers from Kentucky’s prison population counted by the U.S Census in 2010, which is the roadmap used to draft district boundaries. When the maps were approved in 2012 for Congressional and judicial boundaries, the federal prisoner count was included in crafting districts. But in the current House plan that data was not included.
Four states, New York, California, Maryland, and Delaware have approved legislation that stipulates Federal prisoner numbers not be included in drawing up new districts. But in Kentucky no such law exists. I think it should be the law here, but it is not at this time.
No one, outside of those individuals who drafted the plan, knows why the federal prison data was left out. What we do know is that this is the latest example of what should be of great concern to all Kentuckians, the continued practice of leaving important legislation up to a few people conducting the people’s business behind closed doors. We’ve seen its impact on trying to deal with Kentucky’s broken public pension system.
As long as this attitude continues to permeate the hallways and House chamber, we will never be able to tackle the real issues affecting our great Commonwealth. We must change the culture and work to put our people above politics and work together in Frankfort, otherwise Kentucky will continue to lag behind the rest of our nation.
I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of legislation for the 2013 session through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.