A longtime Butler County state representative says he won't run
for re-election in the House if redrawn districts approved Friday in the
General Assembly stand.
The legislature gave final approval Friday to redistricting plans
for the House and Senate. House Bill 1, which included both the House
and Senate plans, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 35-2 and in
the House by a vote of 79-18. Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill soon
Three federal judges will have the final say on the districts' constitutionality.
Redistricting plans for
the House and Senate were passed following the 2010 census, but the
Kentucky Supreme Court in February 2012 struck down those plans, saying
that they weren’t balanced by population. The court ordered lawmakers to
run in old legislative districts and that the lines be redrawn.
Under the House plan
approved Friday, Reps. C.B. Embry Jr., R-Morgantown, and Jim DeCesare,
R-Bowling Green, would be placed in House District 17.
However, Embry said that if the districts are upheld, he doesn't plan to run for a seat in the House.
"I do not plan to run for re-election in the new district," he said.
Embry will instead
consider a run in Senate District 6, which includes Butler, Hopkins,
Muhlenberg and Ohio counties. Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville,
currently represents that district.
Embry previously served
as Ohio County judge-executive and Beaver Dam mayor. He said he thinks
he would have a chance of winning the Senate seat.
"That's a challenge, but it's doable," he said.
At the end of his current term, Embry will have been in the House for 12 years.
Though he has ties to
Warren County, including having a degree from Western Kentucky
University, Embry said Warren County is an expensive area in which to
run for elected office. If Embry ran, he would be pitted against
DeCesare, who he said is one of his best friends in the legislature and
has a voting record similar to Embry's.
"He's an outstanding young legislator," Embry said.
While he believes the
House redistricting plan meets constitutional requirements in terms of
population, he has concerns about the map that could potentially lead it
to being overturned, Embry said.
"It was the best of the three plans that House majority leadership presented us with," he said.
Some of his concerns are
that cities such as Radcliff, Georgetown and Madisonville are split into
multiple districts and that some districts appear drawn in ways that
suggest gerrymandering, Embry said.
DeCesare said Friday that he will run for the House seat in the new District 17.
"I think legally and technically it is a fair plan," he said.
The plan had bipartisan
support in both chambers of the General Assembly and potentially puts
two sets of Democratic incumbents and two sets of Republican incumbents
in districts together.
Under the plan, Warren
County would be split into six districts, but DeCesare said that because
of the large population of the county relative to surrounding counties,
it was natural that it be split.
Rep. Jody Richards,
D-Bowling Green, said he believes redistricting plans for the House and
the Senate are constitutional. Creating plans that meet all requirements
is a challenge, he said.
"I really do think that the House plan and the Senate plan are very fair," Richards said.
Richards said having six
districts located wholly or partially in Warren County is positive.
There are now only four districts located wholly or partially in the
Even those who represent only small portions of Warren County will be interested in what happens here, he said.
"The Warren County caucus will be quite a large caucus," Richards said.
Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said he believes the Senate plan will not run into any judicial problems.
The plan is fair and pits no incumbents against one another, he said.
"From the Senate side, it was unprecedented," Wilson said.
He said he's sorry that
he will no longer be representing Butler County, but Warren has grown to
the point where it is almost a perfect Senate district.
Wilson said he's not so sure the House plan will be considered constitutional.
However, the bill was
approved with a severability clause, which means that if the House plan
is deemed unconstitutional, the Senate plan will stand, he said.