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Changes approved to state legislative districts

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Governor signed new districts into law

By Stephen Lega

Marion Countians won't see a change in their representation in the General Assembly, according to the redistricting plan signed into law Friday by Gov. Steve Beshear.

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The new boundaries did involve some controversies, which Beshear alluded to as well.

"Redistricting is always a partisan process, and the current situation is no exception," Beshear said in a press statement.

Beshear specifically directed his comments at the Republican-controlled Senate's redistricting plan. House Republicans have been similarly critical of the redistricting plan approved in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

The redistricting process is required every 10 years as the new Census information is available so that districts are relatively similar in size. While Marion County will remain in the same district for the Kentucky House and the Senate, some of the other members of those districts will be different.

State Rep. Terry Mills represents the 24th District, which includes Casey and Marion counties and a portion of Pulaski County. Starting in 2013, the 24th District will be Marion, LaRue and Washington counties.

Mills said the new district is a more natural fit.

"The people of Marion and Washington counties, they are more alike in some ways than the current district," Mills said. "I do support having Marion and Washington counties in the same district."

Mills has already filed to run for re-election, and he said he would be getting out to meet the people of Washington and LaRue counties during the year.

At the same, he plans to continue to represent his current constituents as best he can.

"I want to do what I can for Marion, Casey and Pulaski [counties] until then," Mills said.

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon's district also saw a few changes. Higdon represents the 14th Senate District.

For now, that district includes Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties. Starting in 2013, the 14th Senate District will be Casey, Lincoln, Marion, Mercer, Taylor and Washington counties.

Higdon is familiar with much of the new district. He represents four counties already, and he previously represented Casey County during his time as a state representative.

"I've got a lot to learn about Lincoln County," he said.

Unlike Mills, Higdon will not be up for re-election until 2014.

Neither local legislator was directly involved in redrawing the boundaries, but both agreed that the redistricting process is flawed.

"I just think it's a little too political," Higdon said. "There's winners and losers."

Mills agreed.

"It is political, and I understand it's always been political," he said.

In the Senate, Kathy Stein represents District 13, which is just a portion of Fayette County. Under the new district plan, none of District 13 is located in Fayette County. In the House, the redistricting plan results in some Republican incumbents living in the same district.

The deadline to file in the 2012 primary election is Jan. 31.

However, Higdon said that it's possible that deadline will be moved back since the legislature is in the process of redrawing Congressional district boundaries.

Marion County is one of the counties that could see a change in its Congressional representation.

In the House proposal, Marion County would be moved to the Sixth Congressional District, represented by Congressman Ben Chandler, a Democrat. In the Senate proposal, Marion County would remain in the Second Congressional District, represented by Congressman Brett Guthrie, a Republican.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it takes some time to work that out," Mills said.

Candidate filing deadline Jan. 31

Candidates who wish to run in the 2012 primary election have until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, to file with the Kentucky Secretary of State.

Federal elections for President and the U.S. House of Representatives will be on the ballot in November.

At the state level, Kentucky voters will be electing state senators in odd-numbered districts and state representatives.