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Legislative redistricting deemed unconstitutional

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Injunction prohibits implementation of new legislative districts

By Stephen Lega

State legislators need the redo their plans for new legislative district boundaries, according to a temporary injunction issued Feb. 7 in Franklin Circuit Court.
"Until the General Assembly passes redistricting legislation that complies with all applicable constitutional requirements to revise the districts ... the elections for the House and Senate shall be conducted with the legislative district boundaries in effect immediately prior to the enactment of House Bill 1," Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd wrote.
Shepherd's decision could be appealed to an higher court, but for now, the old district boundaries will remain in effect.
This means House District 24 will remain Casey and Marion counties and part of Pulaski county, and Senate District 14 will remain Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor and Washington counties, as a result of Shepherd's decision.
Under HB 1, District 24 would have been LaRue, Marion and Washington counties, and Senate District 14 would have been Casey, Lincoln, Marion, Mercer, Taylor and Washington counties.
House Bill 1 was signed into law Jan. 30 by Gov. Steve Beshear, but Judge Shepherd's temporary injunction prohibits government officials from implementing the law.
Shepherd noted that the old districts are out of balance with regard to the “one person, one vote” requirement under federal and state law, but he also wrote that had to consider competing interests in making his decision.
“The Court therefore concludes that the redistricting cure of House Bill 1 is worse than the malappportionment disease that it is legally required to remedy, at least for the next two years,” Shepherd wrote.
He also pointed out that no constitutional or statutory requirements demand that redistricting must be completed before the November 2012 election.

Shepherd's ruling also extended the deadline to file to run for state legislative seats until 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. As of the original deadline (Jan. 31) incumbent Democratic State Rep. Terry Mills and former Lebanon city councilman Bill Pickeril, a Republican, had filed to run in the 24th District. If no one else files to run in the primary race, Mills and Pickerill will face one another in November.

Update: The Lexington-Herald Leader has reported on its Bluegrass Politics blog that Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonburg, has said they will appeal Phillip's ruling that the districts under HB 1 are unconstitutional. For more on this, follow the link: http://bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com/2012/02/08/house-democrats-will-ap....