Redistricting Impasse Prompts Differing Solutions

Nick Evans | WFSU | 08/31/2015

The mutual recriminations over Florida’s congressional borders are hardly finished echoing in the halls of the state Capitol. But a group of Florida lawmakers want to put an end to the argument—permanently.

In the wake of Florida’s redistricting debacle, some Democratic state lawmakers have called for an independent commission for drawing borders. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) thinks that’s the right idea.

“At the bottom line, at the end of the day, what are you trying to do?” he asks. “You’re trying to let the people decide, instead of gerrymandering districts that snake all over the place, that have a predetermined outcome before the election is ever held.”

Establishing a commission requires amending the state constitution, which means gaining approval from 60 percent of the electorate. Nelson suggests a proposal might come out of the 2017 constitutional revision commission.

But while Democrats are looking to supplement Florida's fair districting provisions, a North Florida Republican wants to go in the opposite direction. Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola Beach) is challenging the amendments in federal court.

During the most recent special session, party leaders cautioned lawmakers against speaking with people outside the Capitol as a way of insulating the redistricting process from partisan influence. Hill argues that limited speech in violation of the first amendment. But League of Women Voters attorney David King says not so fast.

“The limitations on that only occurred later in the remedial process,” King says, “and they were self-imposed by the Legislature themselves.”

Voters approved the measures outlawing partisan reapportionment in 2010.

Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

TALLAHASSEE - A contentious battle over Florida state senate districts is coming to an end. read more »

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

Clearing the way for elections later this year with a map that could boost Democrats' numbers in the Senate, Republican leaders decided Wednesday not to appeal a Leon County judge's ruling setting districts for the chamber's 40 seats. read more »

Florida Senate won't appeal ruling on new districts

TALLAHASSEE — Senate leaders said Wednesday that they will not appeal last month's court ruling that sided with a voters' coalition in setting new district boundaries. read more »

Florida Legislature won't appeal redistricting ruling

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature is giving up the fight and will not contest a court ruling that redraws all of the state's 40 state senate districts for the 2016 election cycle. read more »

Editorial: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals

For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge's ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. read more »

Renumbering state Senate districts triggers political scramble

TALLAHASSEE — It may sound like a simple process, but the Florida Senate's random renumbering of all its districts statewide Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga. read more »