Follow the Florida Constitution when considering how to carve out Congressional districts on our "peninsula on a peninsula."
That's the message from the Pinellas County Commission to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner in letters that went out Monday.
Commissioner Ken Welch last week asked fellow commissioners to pass a resolution or support a letter from Chairman John Morroni supporting a redistricting map that includes all of southern and mid-Pinellas County in a single congressional district. It's an issue that hits home for Welch because he lives in a portion of southern St. Petersburg currently in Rep. Kathy Castor's District 14, which is largely on the Hillsborough County side of Tampa Bay The base map lawmakers drafted by staff takes that area and moves it into Pinellas Rep. David Jolly's District 13, which extends from Fort DeSoto to Dunedin.
At a workshop last week, the commission stopped short of supporting a letter asking for the passage of the base map. Instead, they agreed to send a more generic missive and reassess the Legislature's progress at their regular meeting this Tuesday.
"If something really funky happens by Tuesday, we can address it at that meeting," Morroni said.
Here's the text of the four-sentence letter:
As the Legislature gathers for Special Session B. to redraw Florida's Congressional District Lines, including the Congressional Districts in Pinellas County, we urge you to take Pinellas County's unique geography of a peninsula on a peninsula" into consideration. As stated in Section 20 of the Florida Constitution, we encourage the Legislature to utilize existing political and geographic boundaries." In addition, we would like the Legislature to consider the portion of Section 20 that states that "districts shall consist of contiguous territory" in order to help keep Pinellas County whole during the redistricting process.
Thank you for your careful consideration of this information and please feel free to reach out to me or my fellow Commissioners with any questions.
John Morroni, Chairman
Pinellas County Commission