Florida Senate passes congressional redistricting map with Tampa Bay changes

Jeremy Wallace | Tampa Bay Times | 08/20/2015

The Florida Senate overwhelmingly passed a Congressional Redistricting plan on Wednesday, but the 12-day special session is far from over.

That’s because the plan adopted 28-8 is vastly different than a rival redistricting plan the Florida House passed out on Tuesday.

That leaves the House and the Senate with the task of working out a compromise before the close of the special session on Friday. State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said he’d reach out to Rep.Jose Oliva, R-Miami, later today to start working on a plan that can pass both chambers. Galvano is the chairman of the Senate’s redistricting committee and Oliva is the chairman for the House’s.

The biggest differences between the maps center in the Tampa Bay region, with portions of eastern Hillsborough and Sarasota handled vastly differently. In the Senate plan all of Hillsborough County south of the Alafia River would be in the 15thCongressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland.

But the House version has that entire region – about 150,000 people - instead in the 16th Congressional District represented now U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. Currently that area is split between U.S. Reps Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, and Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

The House map also would split Sarasota County in half, with the northern portion remaining in Buchanan’s district, but the southern portion put into Rooney’s district.

The Legislature is in the 10th day of the special session aimed at redrawing the state’s 27 Congressional Districts. Earlier this summer, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 8 of the state’s congressional districts violated the state constitution prohibiting districts from being drawn to benefit incumbents or political parties.

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