Senate wants Supreme Court to reject Lewis redistricting recommendation

Tampa Bay Times Staff | Tampa Bay Times | 10/16/2015

In the redistricting battle that has become Tallahassee's political soap opera, the Florida Senate on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to reject the map recommended by Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis which it says was "drawn in secret'' and instead pick one of the two maps offered by the Senate.

On Oct. 9, Lewis recommended the high court approve the map drawn by the challengers in the case, the League of Women Voters, which borrowed 20 of the

districts approved by the House and revised the rest.

The Senate called that an affront to their "transparent" redistricting standards because it "allowed parties with unknown motivations to lurk in the shadows looking for ways to modify the Legislature’s work."

They also argue that the map drawn by the plaintiffs, diminishes the ability of Hispanics to be elected to District 26, now held by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami. Lewis had rejected that argument, saying the evidence supplied by the witness for the House, Florida International University Professor Dario Morenowas anecdotal.

"The Order fails to recognize, however, that this Court did not require the Legislature to draw Florida’s congressional districts completely from scratch,'' the Senate added. "...The Senate designed Plan 9062 to preserve current District 16 while reducing the number of splits to Hillsborough County from four to three.

Because any resulting difference in compactness is negligible, Plan 9062 is a superior map."

The alternative, Plan 9066, submitted by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, after the session adjourned "offers an improved configuration of Central Florida,'' they argued.

It also said the court should reject the challengers' maps because they "were drawn in secret, instead of in the open and transparent legislative process this Court envisioned in Apportionment VII."

The court will hear arguments on the maps on Nov. 10. Until then, lawmakers will be focused on another redistricting drama, playing out over their self-imposed special session starting Monday to redraw the Senate maps.

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