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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Legislators propose six starter maps for Senate redistricting session

14

October

Florida House and Senate leaders on Wednesday released six staff-drawn base maps that reconfigure the state Senate boundaries which they will offer up to legislators as a starting point for the three-week special session that begins on Monday. 

That maps, each drawn by adhering to two different sets of standards, were designed to replace the enacted map produced by lawmakers in 2012, which legislative leaders conceded violated the anti-gerrymandering provisions of the Fair Districts amendments to the Florida Constitution. 

"We believe each map complies with the relevant legal standards contained in the Florida Constitution and federal law, including the Florida Supreme Court’s recent interpretations,'' wrote House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva and Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano in a memo to legislators on Wednesday. 

Lawmakers have convened a special session to make a third attempt at redrawing the Senate maps after the Florida Supreme Court invalidated a congressional map they drew in 2012 because it was done with "improper partisan intent."

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court announced that it will conduct a hearing Nov. 2, the third week of the special session, on the congressional map. Legislators failed to agree to a congressional map in a special session in August and Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis on Friday recommended the court adopt a map that was proposed by the challengers in the lawsuit, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause as one that closest adheres to the guidelines set by the Florida Supreme Court in its July ruling. 

This time, the House and Senate wrote their own guidelines for building the maps. According to methodology prepared by lawyers hired by the Republican leaders in each chamber, the maps adhere to the following standards:

Methodology No. 1: Keep Counties Whole and Districts Entirely Within Counties

Tier 1 Principles:

• In drawing districts, avoid dilution or retrogression of voting strength in minority districts.

• In drawing districts, give no regard to partisanship or incumbency.

Tier 2 Principles: Should be adhered to except where Tier 1 principles require otherwise.

• In drawing districts, consistently respect county boundaries by keeping counties whole and keeping districts entirely within counties, where feasible.

• Where county lines cannot serve as the boundary line of a district: o Consistently respect municipal boundary lines and keep municipalities whole, where feasible. o Consistently follow other easily ascertainable and commonly understood geographic boundaries, such as railways, major roads, interstates, and rivers and other major bodies of water, where feasible.

• Make districts as nearly equal in population as practicable, with a maximum overall range of 4%.

• Districts shall be compact.

 Methodology No. 2: Minimize The Number Of Times Each County Is Split Into More Than One District

Tier 1 Principles:

• In drawing districts, avoid dilution or retrogression of voting strength in minority districts.

• In drawing districts, give no regard to partisanship or incumbency.

Tier 2 Principles: Should be adhered to except where Tier 1 principles require otherwise.

• In drawing districts, consistently respect county boundaries by minimizing the number of times each county is split into more than one district, as well as the aggregate number of county splits statewide, where feasible.

• Where county lines cannot serve as the boundary line of a district: o Consistently respect municipal boundary lines and minimize the number of times a municipality is split into more than one district. o Consistently follow other easily ascertainable and commonly understood geographic boundaries, such as to railways, major roads, interstates, and rivers and other major bodies of water, where feasible.

• Make districts as nearly equal in population as practicable, with a maximum overall range of 4%.

• Districts shall be compact.

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 2:55pm]

    

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