The Morehead News

Editorials

March 30, 2012

Redistricting – much ado about nothing!

March 30, 2012 —     With the 2012 legislative session about to pass into history, we can finally say that legislative redistricting turned out to be much ado about nothing.

    Both the House and Senate passed redistricting bills but the courts declared them unconstitutional because of blatant political gerrymandering.

    The Democrats controlling the House tried to hamstring as many Republicans as they could.

    Our favorite example of mean-spiritedness was when three GOP incumbents were placed in the same House district.

    A close second was the dismembering of Lewis County with the heavily Republican county being carved into three pieces, each represented by a Democrat.

    Not to be outdone, the Republican majority in the Senate returned the favor to the Democrats in their midst.

    The press criticized both plans, as did various legislative watchdog groups. A small number of those most offended by the wheeling and dealing went to court.

    Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said the two redistricting proposals were wrong for several reasons, including the splitting of too many counties, the creation of strangely-shaped district boundaries and the renumbering of districts so that some voters would be disenfranchised for as long as four years.

    For a time, it appeared that Sen. Walter Blevins of Morehead, a veteran of 30 years in the General Assembly, would be forced to retire after being moved into a strongly Republican district.

    The lawmakers changed the filing deadlines so many times that some filed in more than one district, just in case.

    The Kentucky Supreme Court needed only a three-hour hearing to uphold Judge Shepherd and order that this year’s election of 100 House members and 19 of the 38 senators     be conducted in the districts established in 2002.

    That bombshell added to the confusion and when the smoke finally cleared, many of the legislators ended up with no opposition in 2012.

    All of that means Reps. John Will Stacy of West Liberty and Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook and Sen. Blevins will continue to represent Rowan County.

    Surprisingly, the congressional districts were realigned with a minimum of heartburn after U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, one of the most powerful men in Congress, decided he had had enough of the foolishness.

    So what happens to the state and federal requirements for legislative reapportionment after each 10-year census?

    When unopposed senators and representatives are reelected this fall, does the absence of a redistricting plan mean they will serve their entire terms in the same old districts?

    Who knows?

    Again this year, the legislature is leaving us with more questions than answers.

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