Nov. 13, 2013 —
In our opinion, a good case can be made some days for changing the name of our state legislature to the General Disassembly.
It seems they do a better job of taking things apart and wasting time and money bickering than they do trying to build Kentucky’s future.
For example, the lawmakers put on their mean faces in the 2012 session and passed a legislative redistricting bill that the state courts threw out in record time.
The majority party in each chamber put the screws to their minority party members in the most blatant display of partisanship in recent memory.
Then came the 2013 session where the House tried again with a reapportionment map that was considerably fairer but the Senate never gave it any consideration, saying it was too complicated to handle during the 30-day short session.
Within a few weeks of adjournment, unhappy citizens in two growing areas filed lawsuits in federal court, claiming they were not being fairly represented in the General Assembly.
They noted that the district boundaries at that time had been in place since 2002 and population changes over the ensuing 11 years had been ignored, thereby nullifying their rights under the “one person, one vote” principle.
Those lawsuits prompted the formation of a three-member panel of federal judges who said they would redraw the House and Senate districts if the General Assembly did not meet its constitutional obligation to do so.
That apparently struck fear in the hearts of the legislative leadership because they quickly developed new plans that could pass legal muster.
Gov. Steve Beshear obliged by calling a special legislative session for that purpose.
Lo and behold, the two new maps became law in a five-day legislative session in August that only cost about $300,000.
And just last week the three federal judges gave their blessing to the new alignments.
At this point, you may be asking, so what is the problem?
Now it seems legislative leaders can’t decide whom they will represent in the upcoming 2014 session – is it the people who elected them in the old districts or the residents of their new districts?
The redistricting bill contained an emergency clause that made it effective as soon as the governor signed it.
The federal judges said it was compliant with state and federal law.
Then Attorney General Steve Beshear said in a 1982 opinion that legislators represent the new districts formed by reapportionment.
Isn’t it long past time for our legislators to address Kentucky’s real problems?