With the Legislature having trouble redrawing new political districts, the job should be given to an independent commission as other states have done, Democrats argue. But Republicans, in charge of the Legislature and whose redistricting efforts have resulted in a legal quagmire, aren’t ready to give up the job. Although such commissions have been used in other states for years, only within the past two redistricting cycles have states pushed for more independence for them. But impartiality can be hard to achieve. “The catch is how you define independent,” said Tim Storey, state legislative elections expert for the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Some of these commissions are just as partisan as the Legislature.”
In Florida, House Democrats are backing a bill by Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, that would create a commission to submit redistricting plans for legislative and congressional districts to the Legislature starting with the 2020 census.
But Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, leader of Senate redistricting efforts, doesn’t think the Legislature should give up its redistricting powers. “I don’t think we’re at a point where just because we couldn’t resolve the congressional maps in two weeks under the most unique circumstances I’ve ever encountered [that] we don’t have the ability to do so ever again,” Galvano said.
During a special session earlier this month, Galvano walked away from talks with his House counterpart, Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, and the Legislature ended the session without adopting new maps. Although Galvano has offered a compromise redistricting plan, Oliva is skeptical there’s enough time to return and pass it before the courts act.