The Florida Legislature, in response to a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling, will gather in Tallahassee from Monday to Aug. 21 to redraw Florida’s congressional district boundaries.
This will be the first time the Legislature undertakes the redistricting process under the guidance provided by the court’s recent ruling.
While we always invite and welcome the public to participate in the legislative process, due to the compressed time frame the court has set for redrawing the congressional maps, the opportunity for public comment will be relatively short.
Nevertheless, we want to make sure you can participate in the upcoming session either in person or through our redistricting websites.
Various components of the court’s ruling will impact the manner in which both lawmakers and members of the public offer comments, suggestions and alternatives leading up to and during the special session.
Since the Supreme Court outlined specific directives on several congressional districts, the Legislature will produce an initial base map that complies with the court’s guidance. The base map will be drawn by legislative staff without the direction of any members of the Legislature or other outside influence.
The base map will be released to the public and all legislators at the same time. Once the base map is released, we invite citizens to view the map, make comments or submit their own map.
We also encourage members of the public to attend our committee meetings in Tallahassee to express their opinions in person to the House Select Redistricting Committee and the Senate Committee on Reapportionment.
Those who are unable to travel to Tallahassee can view the meetings online via the House and Senate websites or the Florida Channel (www.TheFloridaChannel.org.).
No matter what level of participation citizens choose, we invite them to start by visiting the web pages hosted by the Florida House of Representatives (www.floridaredistricting.org) and Florida Senate (http://www.flsenate.gov).
These sites are filled with information about redistricting, including the dates and times for committee meetings and floor sessions in Tallahassee.
Just like lawmakers who choose to offer amendments or alternatives to the base map, should you choose to draw a map, please be mindful of the Florida Supreme Court’s specific directions related to Congressional Districts 5, 13, 14, 21, 22, 25, 26, and 27.
Members of the public who would like the Legislature to consider their maps should attend a meeting of the House Select Redistricting Committee or Senate Committee on Reapportionment in Tallahassee to explain their map in person, including who drew the map, who had input into the map and the sources of any data used in the creation of the map.
To further comply with requirements set by court, members of the Legislature and the public who submit maps will need to be prepared to provide a non-partisan and incumbent-neutral justification for the proposed configuration of each district, to explain in detail the results of any functional analysis performed to ensure that the ability of minorities to elect the candidates of their choice is not diminished and to explain how their proposed map satisfies the legal criteria applicable to a congressional redistricting plan.
Failure to appear in person to present one’s map may impede the Legislature’s ability to assess and consider the map.
Redistricting is an important part of the democratic process. The districts drawn by the Legislature become the basis of your representation in Washington, D.C.
We look forward to the thoughts and input of the citizens.
■ Andy Gardiner is president of the Florida Senate.
■ Steve Crisafulli is speaker of the Florida House.