Pressure is beginning to mount on Gov. Steve Beshear to call lawmakers back to Frankfort this year for a special legislative session on political redistricting.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said in a letter to Beshear on Tuesday that his chamber “stands ready to act” if called into special session.
Beshear said he is considering doing just that.
“I hope to deal with redistricting sometime before the next regular session in January so that it will not become a distraction when we’re preparing the budget for the commonwealth for the next two years,” Beshear said in a statement Tuesday. “I will continue to discuss this possibility with legislative leaders.”
A group of northern Kentucky officials filed suit in federal court last week against Beshear and other state officials to force the Legislature to act. Two judge-executives, a county clerk and nine residents charge in the lawsuit that rapid growth in northern Kentucky has left them without adequate representation in the Legislature.
Always a divisive issue, redistricting is supposed to occur every 10 years to account for population changes recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky had major population shifts between 2000 and 2010, requiring reconfiguration of legislative districts in both the House and Senate.
The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down legislators’ initial redistricting plan last year, finding that the proposed districts weren’t balanced by population and didn’t comply with the federal and state “one person, one vote” mandate.
The House approved a subsequent plan earlier this year, but the Senate opted to wait until next year’s legislative session to deal with the issue. Senate leaders said they wanted to pass both House and Senate redistricting at the same time, so neither got final passage.
Senate President Robert Stivers said in a statement Tuesday that members of his chamber “stand ready to do their duty upon the call of the governor.”
Stumbo said he’s hopeful Beshear moves quickly to call a special session.