House to Senate: We'll take your redistricting map
The first deal has been reached in the redistricting debate: Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, the House redistricting chairman and the House's incoming speaker, has agreed to the Senate offer to accept the House map if the House accepts the Senate map.
In a letter to House members Friday, Weatherford said the House will only be releasing maps of the House and Congress when it unveils its first drafts on Tuesday, and will also workshop a Senate map submitted by the NAACP -- exactly as the Senate did. Sen. Don Gaetz told the Herald/Times on Tuesday that the Senate would refrain from drawing a House map and he hoped the House would do the same for them.
Both the House and Senate maps are starting points for their debate as they try to craft proposals that adhere to the new Fair Districts amendments which ban lawmakers from drawing districts that favor incumbents. It raises some questions, however: Doesn't each chamber have a vested interest in protecting its incumbents? Wouldn't they be truer to the amendment if they switched the process and drew the map for the other chamber instead of the one that has the greatest chance of benefitting them?
Here's Weatherford's letter:
Dear Redistricting Committee and Subcommittee Members,
Recently, the Senate Reapportionment Committee released their proposals for the State Senate and Congressional maps. You can view those maps and related information via the Senate’s website at http://www.flsenate.gov/session/redistricting/.
Their Committee opted to not release a proposal for the State House map. Rather, the Committee decided to focus its inquiry on those options for the State House map that will soon be released by our Redistricting Committee and House Redistricting Subcommittee.
After discussing this issue with the co-chairs and vice-chair of our Senate Redistricting Subcommittee, we are opting to proceed in the same manner, beginning our inquiry of the State Senate map by utilizing the Florida Senate’s proposal. In addition, the Senate Redistricting Subcommittee will workshop a State Senate map that was submitted by the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. Therefore, next Tuesday, we will be releasing options for Florida’s Congressional and State House maps only.
It is my sincerest hope that going forward in this manner will better enable a redistricting process that is respectful of our ultimate goal to redraw Florida’s maps in a legally compliant manner. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or our Committee’s staff.
House Redistricting Committeewww.floridaredistricting.org