TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate took a gamble Monday and submitted one congressional redistricting map that has never been voted on, and another that was rejected by Florida the House, as part of its official submission as ordered by the court.
The Florida House took a more conventional approach and submitted the map that was approved 60-38 by the House before lawmakers tried and failed in August at their third attempt at reconfiguring the state's 27 congressional districts.
The submissions, which will be formally filed in the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County on Tuesday, were ordered by Judge Terry Lewis on Friday after the legislative session ended in impasse.
Lewis extended the filing deadline until Tuesday in recognition of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. It was not clear whether the two plaintiff groups the League of Women Voters and Common Cause and a coalition of Democrat-leaning voters known as the Romo plaintiffs had completed any submissions by the end of the day on Monday.
Lewis has scheduled Sept. 24 as the date for him to hear testimony and arguments from the parties over which of the proposed maps to choose from. He must make a
recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court by Oct. 19, and is expected to choose a map that best adheres to the court's guidelines for drawing the map.
The Senate's decision to include two maps could lead to speculation about the Senate's motives. In addition to submitting the map approved by 23 senators, it also included a map proposed by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, drafted by Senate staff at his direction six days after the session ended.
Galvano said his map was intended to compromise between the map that passed the House and changes sought in the Senate, with the exception of keeping Hillsborough whole a change that House leaders suspected was intended to benefit an unnamed Republican.
Instead, Galvano's revisions, known as Plan S026C9066, incorporates all the changes made to the base map drawn by the House and Senate staff and notes that 23 of the 27 districts "are identical to districts in the last map passed by the House" and retains "17 of the 27 districts" in the base plan.
The House map, as well as Galvano's revisions, modified the base map drawn by staff by preserving the cities of Groveland, Auburndale, Riviera Beach, and Sunrise into a single congressional district.
The House and Senate said the maps were drawn by staff with minimal input from legislators, but neither of them included any record or recording that took place during the non-public meetings. The Senate has said it has tape-recorded these conversations but the House has raised concerns that the court could question whether all conversations such as those between senators were recorded.