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By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT — A judge granted House Republicans and Democratic state Sen. Kathy Stein a temporary injunction Tuesday in their legal challenge of Kentucky’s new legislative district boundaries.
Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd extended the filing deadline for legislative candidates until 4 p.m. Friday.
In an 18-page order, Shepherd blocked Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and other state election officials from implementing the new district boundaries set out in House Bill 1. The General Assembly approved HB 1 and Gov. Steve Beshear signed it into law last month.
“Until the General Assembly passes redistricting legislation that complies with all applicable constitutional requirements to revise the districts (under state law), the elections for the House and Senate shall be conducted with the legislative district boundaries in effect immediately prior to the enactment of House Bill 1 for both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” Shepherd said in Tuesday’s order.
The original filing deadline was Jan. 31. But Shepherd last week issued a restraining order that moved it back to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. It now has been extended again.
Shepherd’s order is appealable. It was not immediately known if Lundergan Grimes and the Legislative Research Commission will appeal, but an appeal is expected.
An appeal could take several days and put major action in the state legislature on hold until lawmakers know who their opponents will be in this year’s elections.
Scott White, an attorney for Stein, said “it is our hope that the General Assembly will go back and get the redistricting right. If they appeal, we will continue to fight for a constitutional district in Lexington.”
Stein’s 13th Senate District in central Lexington was moved to northeastern Kentucky under HB 1.
The new law is unconstitutional primarily because it divides more counties into separate legislative districts than necessary, House Republicans have argued. The House plan split 28 counties and 246 precincts, although only 22 counties have more than the roughly 43,000 people that each district must contain. A GOP proposal would have split 24 counties and 10 precincts.
Story supplied through the Kentucky News Content Service, courtesy of the Lexington Herald-Leader.