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Redistricting plans look to be ready for approval

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By Thomas Barr

 FRANKFORT – When legislators return to the state capitol this week, it appears redistricting plans proposed for Senate and House of Representative seats should have no problems in receiving approval.

     Every 10 years, district boundaries must be redrawn to meet Constitutional standards in Kentucky. In 2012, the Kentucky Supreme Court blocked a redistricting plan approved by the General Assembly.

     This week, legislators will have a new set of plans, which were unveiled prior to the opening of the five-day session.

     State Rep. Russell Webber, who currently represents the 49th District in Bullitt County, said he could vote for the version presented on Friday.

     In that, Bullitt County would have one district which is totally contained in the county; a second district which has around 65 percent of the population in the county; and a third which would have a small portion of Mount Washington.

     In the Senate, Bullitt County would combine with southern Jefferson County to form the 38th District. Sen. Dan Seum is the current officeholder and could run for re-election.

     “I’m happy,” Webber said of the proposed layout. “The residents will be happy.”

     Since it would be mathematically impossible to contain all of Bullitt County in two of its own House districts, Webber said the proposed plan is the best one possible.

     The 49th District would include precincts which are all in Bullitt County.

     Webber’s new district would be called the 26th. This would include most of Mount Washington, about half of Shepherdsville, Brooks, Pioneer Village, half of Cedar Grove and along Highway 44 west to the Bullitt/Hardin county line.

     In Hardin County, four precincts would be included in Webber’s new district. Colesburg would be joined by two precincts north of Elizabethtown and one precinct in Radcliff. He would also have 80 percent of Fork Knox.

     The final district would find a small area of Mount Washington being joined with Spencer and Anderson counties.

     “If this is the plan presented next week, I can vote for it,” said Webber.

     Previously, the Republican Party unveiled a House plan that would split Bullitt County into four districts.

     Webber, although he knew at the time that this version of the plan would not be approved, said he felt the mere discussion of that version led Democratic leaders to reconsider some of its previous maps.

     “It did force some open discussion on redistricting,” Webber said of the end result.

     He felt the Democratic-prepared House plan would have support.

     The Senate plan, presented by Republican leadership, is also expected to gain full support this week.

     In that plan, current senator Paul Hornback would remain in the 20th District. He would represent all of Shelby, Henry, Trimble and Carroll counties, as well as a small part of Oldham County.

     Currently, Hornback represents Shelby, Spencer and Bullitt counties.

     Gov. Steve Beshear called the special session and made it known to legislative leaders that he expected the two plans to be approved within the five days required. The cost of a special session is about $60,000 per day.