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Proposed State Senate Maps Would Change NKY Representation

Written by Mark Payne, LINK Media politics and government reporter

The Kentucky General Assembly convened on Tuesday for its 60-day session and redistricting is among the top priorities as lawmakers begin the process of redrawing legislative and congressional district maps.

Like the House redistricting maps, population shifts throughout Kentucky will see some districts shrink while other areas split or add new districts.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has seen major populations shifts away from western and eastern Kentucky toward the triangle of Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky. 

Locally, one significant change in the proposed state senate district maps would be in Boone County, where the county would be split in half due to the considerable population growth there. Currently, Boone County is entirely represented in the Senate by John Schickel (R-Union) in District 11. With the split, the southern half of Boone County and the southwestern portion of Kenton Co. would be moved to District 20 with Gallatin, Carroll, Owen, and Franklin counties.

Currently, District 20 is made up of Henry, Shelby, Tremble, Carroll, and part of Jefferson. It is represented by State Senator Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville). 

Hornback's home county would no longer be part of District 20. He has previously announced that he would not seek reelection.

Maps were released Tuesday evening, and according to Senate Robert Stivers (R-Manchester), Republicans sought input from Senate Democrats

“There had to be (change), because of population growth,” Stivers said, regarding Senate redistricting changes to Northern Kentucky. When he started in the legislature, Stivers noted that Boone’s district also included Gallatin county but then shrunk to just Boone County. 

Boone County sits at roughly 134,000 people. The cut-off for a district is approximately 118,000 with a deviation of plus or minus five percent, “so it is now too large by itself, so it had to be split to be constitutionally safe under your equal representation portion of the federal Constitution,” Stivers said. “It’s the same thing that happened in Warren County.”

The Senate will address redistricting through Senate Bills 2, 3, and 20. SB2 and SB3 will be considered Jan. 5 by the Senate Standing Committee on State and Local Government, which includes Northern Kentucky Senators Will Schroder (R-Wilder), Chris McDaniel (R-Taylor Mill), and Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), whose sprawling district stretches from Scott Co. northward to southern Kenton.  

“Ensuring equal representation among the state’s population is a great responsibility entrusted to the legislative branch,” said Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson), chair of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. “We have worked hard to ensure these maps meet the requirements outlined by federal law and the Constitutions of the United States and Kentucky.”

Unlike the House maps, no incumbents would be pitted against one another. In the House maps, eastern Kentucky Representatives Norma Kirk McCormick and Bobby McCool would be pitted against one another in the same district. Western Kentucky Reps. Jim Gooch and Lynn Bechler would also face off. In Louisville, four Democrats would face off against each other: Lisa Willner and McKenzie Cantrell would fight for the same district, and Josie Raymond and Mary Lou Marzian in another district.

In Northern Kentucky House districts, there are major shifts, particularly for Reps. Buddy Wheatley (D-Covington) and Rachel Roberts (D-Newport), whose urban districts would be made much more suburban.

The Covington city commission on Tuesday night unanimously adopted a resolution calling for lawmakers to reconsider the proposal to shift Wheatley's district away from the city center.

The House will also consider another bill regarding redistricting in House Bill 22 by the House Standing Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs, including local Reps. Buddy Wheatley (D-Covington), Joseph Fischer (R-Fort Thomas), and Kim Moser (R-Taylor Mill).

Elsewhere in the capital, Gov. Andy Beshear will deliver a State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the House and the Senate at 7 p.m., Jan. 5 that can be viewed on KET.