Florida Legislature will return in October to redraw Senate districts

Associated Press | The Florida Times Union | 07/28/2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Legislative leaders announced Tuesday they will hold a special session to redraw the state's 40 Senate districts after the chamber acknowledged it violated the state constitution by creating maps that benefit Republicans and incumbents.

The decision comes less than three weeks after the state Supreme Court threw out the congressional districts the GOP-dominated Legislature approved, saying those maps were drawn to favor Republicans. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner said that ruling would have implications for the Senate maps, which are also being challenged in court by a coalition of groups including the Florida League of Women Voters.

The special session was called in an effort to settle that lawsuit. It will begin Oct. 19 and end Nov. 6.

The Senate took full responsibility for violating the constitution, saying in a court filing that the House had no input on the Senate districts.

"The Florida House of Representatives did not amend the Senate Plan and had no role in its creation. The Florida House of Representatives did not intend to favor or disfavor any political party or incumbent, and had no knowledge of any constitutional infirmities relating to the Senate Plan," lawyers for the Senate wrote.

Lawmakers are already scheduled to return to the Capitol next month to draw new congressional maps, as they did last year after a circuit court judge ruled they violated the constitution. The Supreme Court ruled this month that the redraw still didn't meet constitutional requirements.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 requiring compact political districts that don't benefit parties or incumbents. Republicans have a 26-14 majority in the state Senate.

Lawmakers also held a special session in June to resolve a budget dispute.

Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

TALLAHASSEE - A contentious battle over Florida state senate districts is coming to an end. read more »

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

Clearing the way for elections later this year with a map that could boost Democrats' numbers in the Senate, Republican leaders decided Wednesday not to appeal a Leon County judge's ruling setting districts for the chamber's 40 seats. read more »

Florida Senate won't appeal ruling on new districts

TALLAHASSEE — Senate leaders said Wednesday that they will not appeal last month's court ruling that sided with a voters' coalition in setting new district boundaries. read more »

Florida Legislature won't appeal redistricting ruling

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature is giving up the fight and will not contest a court ruling that redraws all of the state's 40 state senate districts for the 2016 election cycle. read more »

Editorial: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals

For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge's ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. read more »

Renumbering state Senate districts triggers political scramble

TALLAHASSEE — It may sound like a simple process, but the Florida Senate's random renumbering of all its districts statewide Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga. read more »