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Lawmakers offer a flurry of amendments to proposed congressional district map

TALLAHASSEE — After days of listening to how their staff redrew Florida's 27 Congressional districts in relative seclusion, state legislators on Wednesday started taking their own turn at re-mapping the state.

By the end of the third day of the 12-day special session on redistricting, at least eight state legislators were working on alternative redistricting plans that, in some cases, would significantly change an initial base map that lawmakers started debating on Monday. The result is that who represents millions of Floridians in Congress is far from being resolved.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, took a different approach to halt the Legislature's entire redistricting process because of how it portends to change the 5th Congressional District she has represented since 1993. Brown said she was ready to file a new lawsuit calling on the federal courts to block the Florida Supreme Court's directive to change her snaking Jacksonville-to-Orlando district because it would reduce the percentage of black residents who are of the voting age.

"Today, I filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking relief against the continued use of any congressional redistricting plan that dilutes the voting strength of African Americans," Brown said in a statement to the media.

It was the Florida Supreme Court earlier this summer that ordered the Florida Legislature to meet in a special session to fix the state's congressional districts. They ruled that the Legislature's previous redistricting process was "tainted" and eight of the state's districts violated constitutional mandates against favoring incumbents or political parties.

Proposed amendments to the Legislature's base map make clear where the primary battle fronts will be over the course of the next two weeks. Hillsborough, Sarasota, Palm Beach and Leon counties were all key topics on Wednesday as legislators raced to prepare new maps in time to be considered during day long committee hearings planned on Thursday and Friday.

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