Florida Legislature will return to redraw Senate maps

Micheal Inzaghi | Press Examiner | 07/31/2015

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said the Legislature’s decision to move forward with an August special session to redraw the congressional map would not preclude someone challenging the Florida court’s decision.

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.

It will be the third special session this year.

Further complicating the redistricting scenarios is a separate challenge of the 2012 state Senate map, which is also being contested under the state’s “Fair Districts” constitutional amendment. The second one takes place next month and will tackle congressional district maps.

The first special session happened this summer and dealt with the state budget.

“July has been an unbelievable month for these clients”, said David King, a lawyer for the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida. In court filings, the senate admitted that it drew districts in violation of a constitutional amendment banning districts carved out to benefit parties or incumbents.

The October session will be the third special session of 2015.

After the brief hearing on the congressional map, the lawyers for the House, Senate and the plaintiffs – along with a private court reporter – congregated in a conference room in the LeonCounty courthouse.

“Having said that, the court has spoken and we’re going to look very carefully at

what recommendations were made, and so there is a high likelihood that it will end up being east-west”, Galvano said.

After the October special session, the Senate redo will go before Leon County Circuit Judge George S. Reynolds III, likely sometime in November. Lawmakers have spent more than $6.7 million since July 2009 on the redistricting process — either preparing for, drawing or defending the maps for the House, Senate and the state’s congressional delegation. But he said the Legislature would be vetting each proposal and making sure “that each one of them has some justification for making it more constitutionally compliant and a better map”.

“The Florida House of Representatives did not amend the Senate Plan and had no role in its creation”.

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