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The Kentucky General Assembly met during the past week in special session to address the difficult issue of redistricting. The process of redistricting takes place every decade following the census to realign legislative districts based on population changes. This requirement is to ensure that each district contains a similar number of people and preserve the principle of "one person, one vote."
Without redistricting, some legislators would be representing far more people than others, and the impact of individual voters would be diluted.
The Kentucky Constitution also requires the legislature to minimize the number of counties that are divided in the redistricting process. This makes it challenging to draw a map that seeks to equalize district populations without dividing counties.
As you may recall, the redistricting maps that were adopted in 2012 ran afoul of these constitutional requirements, which resulted in the use of 2002 districts for the most recent elections.
While it's never easy to draw new districts, this session's Senate redistricting plan had input from both the majority and minority caucuses. It was of particular concern to the Senate that each district be treated fairly, with no precincts split and as few counties as possible divided.
The Senate plan also sought to uphold the will of the voters in prior elections by not placing incumbent senators in the same districts. I am pleased the Senate passed a fair plan that had bipartisan support.
The constitutionality of the new redistricting plan is expected to be reviewed by a panel of federal judges within the coming months, and I am confident that the Senate map will be upheld.
The 16th Senatorial District, which I represent, will now include Taylor, Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell and Wayne Counties. It is difficult to see counties that I have represented previously moved into other districts, just as it can be frustrating to see your representation changed.
That being said, I am excited about the opportunity to represent this district. I look forward to spending time in each of these counties and working together to benefit each of our communities.
It is also significant to note that interim joint committee meetings for the month of August were consolidated with this week's special session in order to conserve taxpayer dollars. These committees heard testimony on a wide range of issues, from Kentucky's budget outlook to the use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. The work of these interim committees will continue as we prepare for the next Regular Session of General Assembly, which will convene in January.
It is a great privilege to serve as your voice in Frankfort. If you would like to contact me about any legislative concerns or issues, you may reach me toll-free at (800) 372-7181 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the Kentucky General Assembly is available online at www.lrc.ky.gov.
State Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, represents the 16th District, including Taylor, Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell and Wayne Counties. She is the chair of the Government Contract Review Committee, the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and the Enrollment Committee. She is also the vice chair of the Agriculture Committee and a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee and the Judiciary Committee.