Oscar Braynon wants Senate to get head start on remedial redistricting

Ryan Ray | Saint Peters Blog | 08/24/2015

Sen. Oscar Braynon penned a letter to Senate redistricting guru Jay Ferrin late last week requesting the creation of a redrawn Senate map similar to the congressional “base map” the Legislature used as a lodestar during Special Session B.

Braynon said he hopes a proactive approach will avoid the time crunch that exacerbated lawmakers’ inability to come to an agreement on a plan to revise the eight U.S. House districts invalidated by the Florida Supreme Court in July.

The Miami Gardens Democrat also expressed his belief that the longer the public and experts have to examine the maps, the more likely the high court will approve the new proposal.

“Rather than limiting public scrutiny to a few days prior to House or Senate committee consideration, starting the work over a month in advance allows for full public participation in a process that affects everyone,” said Braynon in a news release. “And establishing the ground rules for maps that affect political futures is critical to protecting the integrity of the final product.”

The Senate entered into a consent agreement last month that acknowledged its role in the 2011 redistricting process that violated the state constitution. Rather than wait for the court to rule the same way and force it to reconvene in Tallahassee, the chamber took matters into its own hands and announced a plan to redraw Senate maps in a Special Session that will run from Oct. 19 until Nov. 6.

It will mark the Legislature’s fourth Session of the year.

In his missive to Senate staff, Braynon listed a number of requirements he said were necessary for the new draft to pass constitutional muster.

“I wish to engage you to draw a state Senate map which employs the same standard and methods used in the congressional base map, which you drew and which was heard in the senate and house committees on redistricting,” Braynon wrote. “This map will respect the VRA, existing municipal and geographic boundaries, directives from the courts and the state constitution.”

“Starting in the southernmost district, 39, move northward east of the Everglades and stack districts horizontally, stopping at the Brevard County,” Braynon’s laundry list begins, reflecting lessons learned the hard way throughout its now four-year legal saga over redistricting.

Braynon told Ferrin he expected a first draft this week.

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