HOUSE PANEL OKAYS CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT MAPS WITHOUT MOVING ANY LINES via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times
Members of the Florida House’s redistricting panel on Thursday approved a new congressional district map without making any changes.
The 9-4 vote came after three hours of testimony and consideration of alternatives to change how lines are drawn around Leon and Palm Beach counties. As committee members explained their votes, they reiterated the same themes that have taken center stage among Republicans and Democrats during this special session.
Republican members cited reluctance to support this map — the third version of congressional lines drawn since the 2010 census — but expressed a feeling that their hands had been tied by the Supreme Court.
“I believe at my core that the Florida Supreme Court has grossly overstepped its boundaries and has violated the Florida Constitution,” House Republican Leader Dana Young said before voting for the map. “The Florida Supreme Court is forcing us, the Legislature, to decide between potentially violating them, the Florida Constitution, or potentially violatign the U.S. Constitutiton.”
Democrats, meanwhile, said the maps thrown out by justices were unconstitutional and drawn with partisan intent. Still, many of them voted against new maps drawn by House staff for a variety of reasons: because they remain partisan or don’t account for communities of minority voters to be well represented or didn’t involve public forums across the state.
JOSE OLIVA CONCEDES: BASE MAP MAY BE FINAL MAP via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times
While legislators may not like the map their staff has drafted, they’re likely to be stuck with it because the Florida Supreme Court gets “the final word.” … that was the conclusion of House Reapportionment Committee Chairman Jose Oliva … after the House passed its base map with no changes on a 9-4 vote … Florida Supreme Court “overreached,” when it imposed guidelines on how lawmakers should reconfigure eight of the 27 congressional districts it determined were flawed.
Oliva said that shifting that burden had gone too far, and violated the separation of powers doctrine, since many legislators in office today were not in office when the maps were passed … acknowledged that while lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are unhappy with the court’s ruling, they cannot defy it. He ruled a proposal by Rep. Mike Hill … out of order. Hill proposed rejecting the court ruling and adopting the current map that was ruled unconstitutional by the court.
CORRINE BROWN CITES TRAYVON MARTIN TO MAKE CASE FOR DISTRICT via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel
Protests in recent years over racial discrimination in policing turned violent in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, but not in Sanford. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown says that’s because a member of their community – her – was “at the table,” and they felt they were being heard.
“We did not have Ferguson and we did not have Baltimore because they had a member in the room,” Brown said.
There were no outbursts of violence in Sanford after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013. But violence has erupted sporadically in Ferguson, which lies just outside of St. Louis, and in Baltimore over unarmed black men were killed by police officers.
Both Ferguson and Baltimore, however, are represented by African-Americans, U.S. Rep.Lacy Clay, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
DAVE KERNER’S BID TO LEAVE LOIS FRANKEL AND TED DEUTCH’S DISTRICTS ALONE FALLS SHORT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
A push to keep unchanged the districts now held by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch was rejected Thursday by the state House redistricting panel.
Rep. Dave Kerner who proposed the move, acknowledged it was a longshot in a Republican-led Legislature that appears intent on complying with last month’s state Supreme Court ruling, which called for changes to Districts 21, 22 and six other seats.
“But today was not the final day,” Kerner said, adding that he may still have a chance to revive the proposal next week on the House floor.
Also testifying in support of Kerner’s map was Palm Beach County Commissioner Steve Abrams, Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan and Palm Beach County Economic Council president Daniel Martell. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein and Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio planned to attend Thursday’s legislative hearings, but had travel delays.
House redistricting chair Jose Oliva, R-Miami, said he supported what Kerner was looking to do. But he cautioned that the state Supreme Court was intent on reconfiguring the Deutch and Frankel districts, along with others singled out as being drawn to help Florida Republicans retain power.
“Unfortunately, the court in its finding, said these districts needed to be redrawn,” Oliva said. “And the only reason is to make them more compact.”
TWO HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS COULD BE ELECTED TO CONGRESS UNDER NEW TOM LEE PLAN via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Lee said the county has been well represented over the years, but said there are enough people in eastern Hillsborough County that have like interests that they deserve to be in the same Congressional district represented by someone from the county. As it is now, Hillsborough County is split into four congressional districts, yet only one member is from Hillsborough: Rep. Kathy Castor. Other parts of Hillsborough have congressmen living in Polk County, Pinellas and even Okeechobee.
Under the plan he proposed this morning, the 15th Congressional District, now represented by Rep. Dennis Ross would become an almost completely Hillsborough County district that would cover Plant City, Brandon, Riverview and Sun City Center.
It would also include a portion of Polk County.
Lee’s plan would push Rep. Tom Rooney out of Hillsborough County. Rooney’s 17th District includes Sun City Center and other southern sections of the county.
Lee’s plan would also reassemble Sarasota County into one congressional district, as State Sen. Nancy Detert proposed earlier. Sarasota is already wholly in the 16th Congressional District, covered by Rep. Vern Buchanan. But the Legislature’s first base redistricting map recommended splitting the county into two different districts. Detert objected saying it would water down the county’s voice in Washington.
DANIEL RUTH COLUMN: LEGISLATORS FORCED TO BEHAVE, CRYING ABOUT IT via the Tampa Bay Times
Ruth dishes up a column on the latest special session in Tallahassee … a dive into what Ruth describes as addled delusions, crybabies, and Lord Voldemort meeting Lance Armstrong. Here’s his take:
Here’s a simple question to ponder. Suppose you found yourself sitting next to a member of the Florida Legislature in a saloon. Would you feel comfortable leaving your bar change unattended within arm’s reach of one of our elected officials if nature suddenly called?
Scary thought, isn’t it?
And that explains why the House and Senate have been ordered by the state Supreme Court to conduct yet another special session, this time to redraw Florida’s hinky congressional districts simply because a conniving, duplicitous, scheming Legislature was deemed to be more untrustworthy than Lord Voldemort meets Lance Armstrong.
HOW REDISTRICTING SPECIAL SESSION COULD END IF THE FLORIDA HOUSE AND SENATE PASS DIFFERENT MAPS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times
Could the special session on redistricting end in a House-Senate blowup like the regular session in April? Senate Democrats … raised the possibility that House leadership will pass the base congressional map drawn by legislative staff and then end the session three days early in an homage to their unanticipated early adjournment that ended the regular session. But House leaders say don’t hold your breath.
“I don’t think that would happen but that is a question of the presiding officers,” said Rep. Jose Oliva … . “As we saw in this last session, it’s always option.”
House Republican Leader Dana Young was even clearer in saying an early end to session isn’t in the cards.
“I don’t think there’s any concern about that happening … The plan that we have with the Senate was that the House would meet Monday-Tuesday, would pass whatever it is that we pass and then we would send it to the Senate for them to consider on Wednesday-Thursday, knowing that we may need to come back Friday.”
Still, even without an early end to session, it’s looking increasingly likely that disagreement between the House and Senate could flare again over congressional maps …