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Senators storm out of redistricting conference; session impasse deepens

Facing a noon deadline to pass a new congressional district map, the Florida Senate refused Friday morning to accept changes offered by the House. As the impasse deepened, lawmakers discussed the possibility of creating a joint conference committee and extending the two-week special session into a third week next week.

UPDATE: Senators stormed out of a meeting with the House shortly before 10 a.m.

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, defended the Senate's amended map that reshapes Hillsborough County and solidifies Sarasota County into a single congressional district. "What we think counts," Galvano told senators in a brief floor session.

"I think the House is taking a very careful position in order to not be kicked out by the court case," said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, who offered the amendment to keep Sarasota County whole. "By cutting us (Sarasota County) in half, you could have taken a constitutional district and made it unconstitutional. In the House's carefulness, they could get it kicked out anyway."

"We continue to be in a very inconsistent situation," said Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, the House redistricting chairman. The House's position is that the Senate proposal won't pass muster with the Florida Supreme Court.

-- With reporting by Michael Auslen, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau