Friday, September 21, 2018
Politics

Mapping out Florida's redistricting special session

TALLAHASSEE — Florida lawmakers will remain in the spotlight this week when they return to the capital city for a redistricting special session to redraw the court-rejected Senate map.

It largely will be a one-sided exercise.

House leadership has decided to continue an agreement that allows the Senate to redraw its own lines. During the first redistricting round earlier this year, each chamber drew its own maps, but the court upheld only the House plan.

Both chambers, however, will return to Tallahassee Wednesday to convene their two-week session beginning at 1 p.m. House members will press a green button to indicate their attendance, and then most of them will turn around and head home until ordered to come back to vote on the Senate map.

After the brief session convenes, the House and Senate redistricting committees are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon for two hours each to get updates on the Florida Supreme Court ruling. The court voted 5-2 Friday to reject the Senate map, specifically invalidating eight proposed districts for violating the new anti-gerrymandering rules, while it upheld the House map in its entirety 7-0.

The committees are then expected to adjourn as the Senate staff works behind closed doors to reconfigure the Senate proposal. The Senate Redistricting Committee is then set to meet again on March 20 to discuss a new proposed map. Senators are tentatively scheduling a floor vote on March 22 with a final vote taken that Thursday or Friday. No word yet on when the House will return to sign off.

"The court also gave us a pretty good road map on how to make the adjustments so I feel as though we can get the job done and get the job done on time,'' Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said after the Legislature adjourned on Friday. "We're not starting with a clean sheet of paper as some of our critics wanted us to."

After the Legislature passes its Senate map for a second time, Attorney General Pam Bondi will ask the court to review it again and the court will then have another 30 days to determine if the Senate followed the rules. If the court decides then that the Senate map is still out of compliance, the court is required to redraw the maps themselves.

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