Florida congressional maps being redrawn in private

Bay News 9 | Bay News 9 | 08/06/2015

TALLAHASSEE — Florida legislative staffers are in the process of redrawing the state's congressional district map, a task assigned by Republican leaders in advance of a redistricting special session that begins August 10.

The mapmaking is being conducted in private, roiling reformers who are already warning that the latest round of the redistricting process may not withstand judicial scrutiny.

"The staff, presumably, is drawing the base maps, but at whose instruction? We think they could — we know they could do this completely in the open," said Peter Butzin of Common Cause Florida. "I mean, they could go on the Internet and actually show how the maps are being drawn in real time mode, and we're disappointed that isn't happening."

A coalition of groups including Common Cause successfully sued to invalidate the Republican-controlled Legislature's initial and re-tooled congressional maps, with the Florida Supreme Court ruling the maps were illegally drawn to benefit the GOP.

The court has ordered the Legislature to produce a third map, which is the subject of the special session.

Legislative leaders, however, contend the "base" map being prepared by staffers is simply a rough draft that rank and file lawmakers will have an opportunity to change during the eleven day session.

While Republicans could have a lot to lose in the redistricting process — namely seats in Congress — the party's top brass in Tallahassee say they have nothing to hide.

"The process we went through was, we didn't — there was no gamesmanship or, you know, playing 'let's hide the ball,'" Rep. Richard Corcoran (R-Lutz) said during a House debate on the second manifestation of the congressional map.

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