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House, Senate override Gov. Beshear’s vetoes on redistricting, lawsuit follows in Franklin Circuit Court

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The House and Senate overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes of the legislative and Congressional redistricting bills on Thursday, prompting a lawsuit to be filed by Franklin County residents and the Kentucky Democratic Party, challenging the plans’ constitutionality.

The House overrode the redistricting plan for that chamber 69-23, with Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Eastwood, the sponsor of the measure saying, “The governor’s veto is a work of fiction. In his veto message, he said we acted, ‘to deprive certain communities of representation.’  Governor, you shamelessly intended that as a dog whistle to certain communities.”

A lawsuit was filed in Franklin Circuit against the redistricting plan vetoed by the Governor and over-ridden by vote of the Kentucky House and the Senate.

The Senate, meanwhile, overrode the Congressional redistricting bill 26-8 and the House redistricting measure 24-10.

During that debate, Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, who voted no, said she spot-checked the bills.

“You could easily see these are not the best-drawn maps. And in fact, the thing that is the most concerning to me now is now that we are through with the process, when I would ask if we’re sure we met all the requirements of the law, we heard in committee we didn’t look at that much.”

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Joseph Smith, said he objected to Franklin County being moved from the 6th Congressional District, centered on the Lexington area, to the 1st District, which now stretches from western Kentucky and the Tennessee line to Franklin County.

“The General Assembly’s focus in creating these district maps wasn’t representation or democracy or even legality – their focus was on partisan politics, which is why they unnecessarily sliced up so many counties,” Smith said. “Why else would I, a Franklin County resident, be sorted into the same congressional district as Paducah? I should pick my representatives – they shouldn’t pick me.”

Plaintiff Jill Robinson, a former Franklin County magistrate, said “the process was all about power, and as a former elected official the toxicity of power is not good for democracy. When an elected official’s district has been drawn to assure their reelection, they start to feel too comfortable in their position and they stop listening to constituents who express contrary views.”

Bill filed to change filing deadline, delay primary

The delay in getting U.S. Census Bureau data-led lawmakers to extend the filing deadline to Jan. 25, Rep. Miller has filed House Bill 323, which would change the filing deadline again, as well as the primary itself, due to any possible court action on the redistricting bills.

His legislation would, for this year only, extend the filing deadline for all candidates to May 31, and delay the date of the primary to the first Tuesday in August.

The lawsuit was filed at Franklin Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon. No hearing date has been announced yet.

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