Legislative Update 1/9/2022

Dear Friends,
 
Happy New Year!  2021 was a difficult time for many Kentuckians across the state, and I wish you peace, good health, and prosperity along with wishes for better days ahead in 2022.
 
This first full week of the New Year meant the kick-off to Kentucky’s 2022 legislative session.  What a momentous week it was, marking some major changes for Kentucky voters and who will be representing them. 
 
Redistricting…
Just 5 days in to the 60-day session, and the legislature has already sent four redistricting bills to the Governor’s desk.  The bills, once final, will make major changes to the districts for the KY House of Representatives and state Senate, KY Supreme Court Districts, and US Congress.
 
There’s much to be concerned about in the substance of the changes.  From my perspective, the process was even more troubling. Majority leadership first revealed an impressionistic glimpse of the new House districts on December 30th, a state holiday and the beginning of a long holiday weekend.  Map details were finally revealed to the public – and Democratic legislators – just two days before being put to a vote.  The timing was much too brief to allow thoughtful analysis or public input on decisions that will affect representation across our state for the next decade!      

The importance of the redistricting maps cannot be overstated, as the new boundary lines amplify some voices and suppress others, both in Frankfort and in Washington, DC.     

I voted no on all of the redistricting bills.     
 
In announcing the new districts, Speaker of the House David Osborne said that goals of the new districts were to “keep communities as intact as possible,” and to maintain continuity of representation.  That’s certainly not reflected in the new districts for the communities I was elected to represent. 
 
A few 35th district specifics: 

  • The Germantown, Schnitzelburg, George Rogers Clark Park, Parkway Village, Tyler Park, and Original Highlands neighborhoods, as well as the neighborhoods around the Zoo and Nature Center, have been removed from the 35th district altogether.
  • Parkway Village, Audubon Park, North Audubon, and Audubon Ridge – four geographically close and interconnected neighborhoods – are re-districted into four separate districts.
  • The historic Camp Zachary Taylor neighborhood has been split in two.
  • The new 35th district includes precincts from what are now six different House districts, and current 35th district precincts are subdivided into six separate districts. 
  • The new 35th district is divided by a large, unpopulated area that includes I-65, the airport, UPS World Port, the Ford assembly plant, and large commercial and industrial areas, with wonderful and historic neighborhoods to both the east and the west that have been severed, sliced, and diced by the new district lines.
  • Audubon Park, Prestonia, and Lynnview remain entirely in the 35th, along with much of Camp Taylor, and sections of Okolona and South Park.  New to the 35th are portions of  Beechmont, Auburndale, Kenmore Hill, and Heritage Creek areas.    

 
Here’s the official proposed KY House Districts map: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/recorddocuments/note/22RS/hb2/HCS1RM.pdf
 
Here’s an easier-to-navigate unofficial map, sent to me courtesy of a helpful constituent (thanks, Steve!): https://bit.ly/3tfb2GS
 
And if you’d like to look for your new House district by precinct number, here’s the House redistricting bill language: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/22RS/hb2/bill.pdf
 
Incumbents and representation by women:
While I agree with the League of Women Voters’ position that new districts should be drawn without regard to where incumbents reside, I will note here that the 35th district has been drawn as one of four Kentucky House districts that pairs two incumbents.  I believe that healthy competition and giving voters a choice is a good thing for our democracy.  But I think it’s worth noting that, of the eight legislators paired for potential primary races, five of us are women. 
 
Before 2018, Kentucky ranked near the bottom of all states in the percentage of representation by women, since moving to a still-not-so-great 34th place.  The new maps are very likely to move us backward on this metric. 
           
In other news…
 
New candidate filing deadline –  This week, the legislature also approved moving this year’s candidate filing deadline from 1/7 to 1/25.  I voted yes.  I’ll support any initiative that makes it easier to participate in our democracy, whether as a voter or as a candidate. 
 
“Christopher’s Law” – HB207 – January 5th marked the 2-year anniversary of the senseless killing of Christopher McKinney. Christopher was killed with a single punch by a bouncer in what should have been a safe space.  Christopher’s widower, Nick Clark, has been a tireless and devoted advocate for Christopher’s legacy, working to protect others from this same terrible fate.  I was shocked to learn that Kentucky has no professional standards or required training for private security staff, people who are charged with protecting the public.  Nick and I have worked closely together in crafting HB207 to correct this gap in current law.  

Learn more about Christopher’s Law in these stories from WLKY News: https://bit.ly/3G9wQr2 and LEO: https://bit.ly/3t7SiJh    

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As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts and concerns. You can email me by responding to this message, or at my legislative email address: Lisa.Willner@lrc.ky.gov.  The toll-free message line for legislators is 1-800-372-7181.  Bills and votes can be found on the General Assembly’s webpage at legislature.ky.gov, and you can watch livestreamed legislative coverage through the KET website or the KET Legislative app. 
 
Stay safe, be well –
Lisa