On Wednesday night, Governor Andy Beshear issued vetoes of two redistricting bills passed by the General Assembly. It is almost certain that his vetoes will be overridden by the Republican super-majorities in both chambers.
The two bills Beshear vetoed were HB 2, the state House redistricting map, and SB 3, the Congressional redistricting map. Beshear had already signed into law the judicial redistricting bill. To date, he has not taken any action on SB 2, the state Senate map. The deadline for a veto on that bill is today (Thursday) at 11:59 PM.
Beshear’s veto messages
On HB 2, the House map, Beshear issued this statement:
I am vetoing House Bill 2, the redistricting plan for the Kentucky House of Representatives, because it is an unconstitutional political gerrymander that prevents some communities from having their voices heard in Frankfort.
This redistricting plan appears designed to deprive certain communities of representation. In particular, it excessively splits counties, including Fayette, Boone, Hardin, and Campbell, and carves up other counties such as Jefferson and Warren for partisan reasons, contrary to the Kentucky Constitution. Moreover, according to demographic data the House released after it passed this bill, this plan appears to dilute the voices of certain minority communities.
On SB 3, the Congressional map, he issued this statement:
I am vetoing Senate Bill 3 because it was drafted without public input and reflects unconstitutional political gerrymandering.
One look at the map reveals what those who drafted it in secret were trying to hide: the redistricting plan is a political gerrymander. Most egregiously, it re-draws the First Congressional District to wind across hundreds of miles, from Franklin County to Fulton County. Under this map, someone driving from Lexington to Louisville would cross five of the state’s congressional districts, but it would take over four hours to get from one side of the First District to the other. Plainly, this map is not designed to provide fair representation to the people of Kentucky and was not necessary because of population changes.
Because the people of the Commonwealth deserve a fair and representative redistricting plan, I am vetoing Senate Bill 3.
Response to the Governor’s vetoes
As expected, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly rejected Beshear’s descriptions of the maps, and vowed to override both vetoes. House Speaker David Osborne released a statement in which he said, “We are disappointed that the governor has chosen to again veto lawfully enacted legislation. ... He is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and he knows it. This proposal meets all legal considerations. It splits no precincts, divides the fewest number of counties possible, and preserves communities of interest.”
Even as the General Assembly prepares to quickly override the governor’s vetoes, multiple sources have told Forward Kentucky that lawsuits to overturn the maps are being prepared.