Florida House goes full Florida House on redistricting

KATE BRADSHAW | Tampa Bay Creative Loafing | 08/19/2015

After hours of talking shit about the Florida Supreme Court, GOP lawmakers in the State House passed new maps reshaping the state's congressional districts, which is why lawmakers are in Tallahassee to begin with.

The state's highest court ordered lawmakers to redraw the districts after it found they had twice drawn them in ways that favor Republicans (not that Democrats wouldn't have done the same thing, to be fair).

Note: We watched some of the yawner of a hearing via livestream, and caught the last hour or so of it. You couldn't pay us enough to sit through that whole thing. (Okay, maybe you could.) What we didn't observe via the Florida Channel we read elsewhere and are attributing accordingly.

While most Republicans reluctantly supported moving the process forward by approving the maps (Friday is the deadline to finalize them), some, according to the Tampa Bay Times, resisted because they thought the court order was "unconstitutional overreach," and one even called for the impeachment of the justices, because why not?

"Our constitutions are under attack," said Pensacola Beach Republican Rep. Mike Hill, according to the News Service of Florida. "The United States and Florida constitutions have been assaulted. ...Our Constitution allows the Supreme Court to offer an opinion, but it is a myth to say that they are the final arbiter of our laws."

Meanwhile, Democrats were critical of some aspects of how the maps were drawn, especially the inclusion of thousands of prisoners who can't even vote in the district into which they were drawn.

State Rep. Dwight Dudley, a St. Pete Democrat, called for an independent redistricting commission.

"There's something fundamentally wrong with this process," Dudley said. "I believe that when Democrats are at the wheel, it's a matter of self-interest. That when Republicans are at the wheel they show their self-interest. That we need an independent redistricting commission."

NSF reports that House could be on a collision course with the State Senate over how some districts were drawn. The Senate version currently has eastern Hillsborough County in one district and would place all of Sarasota County in one district. The two chambers are also at odds over whether two South Florida districts should parallel one another horizontally or vertically.

The legislature has till Friday at noon to figure it out, but judging by past, er, tensions between the two chambers, lawmakers may be sticking around a while.

"There's a possibility that we may have to come back for additional committee meetings, or session, or both," said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli at the close of the meeting.

What's most hilarious?

They'll have to come back in the fall and do it all over again with the State Senate districts.


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