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Following a national census, which takes place every ten years in America, your General Assembly must redraw the lines that define legislative, senatorial, and U.S. Congressional districts. The current legislative session has that as a primary duty. Lines are drawn based on revised population data, the goal being to end up with 100 state house districts, 38 state senate districts, and 6 U.S. congressional districts of roughly equivalent populations.
Naturally, those who redraw the lines (the majority in each chamber) want to retain the majority. So you redraw the lines to protect your own members and hurt members of the other party. (As my friend Bo Bean would say, "it's not right, but it's so.) The lines you draw are set out in a bill, and when that bill comes up for a vote the majority will rule; the minority truly has no input, except to vote no or yes.
And so, you will see lines drawn that put two (or more) minority members together in the same district, and if they want to run again they will have to take on the other in a primary election; one of them will be gone. Also, as a majority you have drawn district lines that use party registration to improve your chances of picking up even more seats with the goal of enhancing your majority.
A legislator develops relationships with many of those he/she serves, regardless of political party affiliation. When the geographic area you serve is changed due to redistricting, it can feel as if you're losing friends in places that you have come to know and love, places that you might barely have known if you weren't in office with a responsibility to them.
That's why redistricting can feel personal; we only have so much time, and dedicating that time to new areas means less time with our old friends.
Some folks believe that you're not represented well if your Senator or Representative isn't from your home town or county. I don't believe that.
Look at it more personally: if you represented your county and one other, would you ignore the one you didn't live in? If you're a county magistrate, do you favor your own town or neighborhood over the entire district that you represent? If your U.S. congressman doesn't live in your county, is he/she going to shortchange or snub you? I would hope not. That conviction, by definition, would deny equal representation to the huge majority of
Americans or Kentuckians. And I'd suggest that anyone who feels that way might not be worthy of representing anything larger than his own family.
We finished the congressional redistricting about a week ago; Nelson and Bullitt were retained in the 2nd congressional district, but most of Spencer County was lost to the 4th district.
Meanwhile, House Bill 1 redrew state district lines such that Bullitt County was reduced to 2 legislative (House) districts and 2 counties (Bullitt, Nelson) in one senatorial district. Nelson is about the perfect size for one district, and Spencer was kept whole as part of a separate House district. But the plan was declared by the Franklin Circuit Court to be unconstitutional. The appeal of that decision rests in Kentucky's Supreme Court, and their decision could come as early as Friday.
Hearing from you is the best part of my job. Call me at home, or leave a message at 1-800-372-7181. This week's "Coffee with Dave" is Saturday, 10:00, at Down Home BBQ on Bloomfield Rd. I'll buy the coffee, and hope to see you there.