Divided Florida Legislature ends session with no new map

Associated Press | Naples Daily News | 08/21/2015

TALLAHASSEE — Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature shut down its work Friday on a new congressional map, failing to follow the mandate of the state's highest court to draw new districts.

As legislators complained about "dysfunction" and questioned each other's motives, the session officially ended at noon with the House and Senate locked in a stalemate.

Legislators were supposed to have a new map adopted by next week in order to meet court-ordered deadlines. Unless they agree to hold yet another special session, the task of drawing the state's 27 congressional districts will eventually fall to the Florida Supreme Court.

The court ruled in July that the current districts violated a voter-approved constitutional amendment that requires districts be compact and not drawn to benefit a political party or incumbents.

Legislative staff and lawyers drew up a map that would have altered the state's political landscape and led to the possible ouster of several incumbents in Congress.

But the Senate pushed to tweak the geography of congressional districts in the Tampa Bay and central Florida region. The biggest change involved the district of U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican.

House leaders, however, refused to go along with that proposal and suggested the court would question whether the move was done for some parochial interest.

House and Senate Republicans in charge of the map drawing process had a meeting Friday morning that ended acrimoniously after Sen. Bill Galvano and senators walked out while Rep. Jose Oliva was still talking about the proposals.

The Senate voted to extend the session until next Tuesday, but that motion was soundly defeated as both Republicans and Democrats in the House sharply criticized the Senate.

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