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General reassembly

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Legislators to redraw state, congressional districts

By Stephen Lega

When the General Assembly meets in 2012, redistricting based on the 2010 Census data will be one of the major items on their agenda. The legislators will be redrawing the boundaries for the Kentucky House of Representatives and Senate and the state U.S. Congressional districts.

"I don't think the House and Senate districts will be as contentious as the Congressional districts," State Rep. Terry Mills said.

Mills said his understanding is that two legislative bodies have had a gentleman's agreement that the House and Senate would approve each others changes to their own districts.

State Sen. Jimmy Higdon agreed.

"I don't think there will be any problem at all with the House and Senate, relatively," Higdon said. "The problem will be coming to a consensus with Congressional redistricting."

This will be the first time either Mills or Higdon have been involved in the redistricting process, but both said they expected to see changes to their districts.

Mills represents the 24th House District, which includes Casey and Marion counties and a portion of Pulaski County. He added that he has been hearing that his district may be changing to include Marion, Washington and LaRue counties.

"However, that is a long way from being a done deal," Mills said.

He added that he will continue to work on behalf of his current district until something is changed officially.

"I do plan to run again," Mills said. "But I want to know who to ask."

Higdon represents the 14th Senate District. This includes Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties. He expects his district to be different, but he does not yet know what that might look like.

"We've had a meeting and they showed me seven different versions," Higdon said.

He noted that the eastern and western parts of the state lost population, while the central part of the state - particularly the Golden Triangle area (roughly the space between Covington, Lexington and Louisville) - gained population.

Because of these changes, Higdon said he expects the legislators to begin by making adjustments on either end of the state and working toward the middle.

"It's like putting together a puzzle," Higdon said.

As far as the Congressional districts are concerned, Marion County could end up with a different representative.

Today, the county is part of the 2nd Congressional District and is represented by Brett Guthrie, a Republican from Bowling Green.

It's possible that Marion County will remain part of that district, but Mills and Higdon both said they have seen proposals in which Marion County is moved into the 6th Congressional District, which is represented by Ben Chandler, a Democrat from Woodford County.

"It's an interesting process," Higdon said.

Mills said he was in favor of holding a special session to focus on the redistricting issue. He knows a special session would cost taxpayers money, but he's concerned that the issue could cost the state even more in the long run if it becomes the elephant in the room throughout the 2012 session.

"Some say we can do it in a week," Mills said, "but I'm skeptical."