Confusion and controversy continued to swamp the redistricting discussions Wednesday as one Senate Republican leader said he had “lost confidence” in the legal team while the redistricting chairman selected a draft map that several lawmakers said could be rejected by the courts as incumbency protection. “I just don’t find any consistency in this. I think I’ve lost confidence,” said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, after listening to answers from the Senate’s legal team during the second day of hearings on Senate redistricting. After the six-hour hearing, Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, filed a proposed map, S9084, that will serve as the Senate’s starting point Friday, when the committee attempts to vote out a map. It was similar to S9078, one of six draft maps drawn by House and Senate staff in advance of the redistricting session that began on Monday.
Galvano, who has argued that not all senators will have to run for re-election in 2016 even if their districts are significantly revised by the new map, also offered two options for determining which Senate districts will escape re-election. If approved, at least 14 senators will not run until 2018, even if the new districts have them represent new communities.
He also rejected arguments from Democrats and some Republicans and included in his map a district that links black communities of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties by crossing Tampa Bay, similar to the district now held by Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.
The Florida Supreme Court ordered lawmakers not to cross Tampa Bay when drawing the congressional map and Lee joined Democrats in arguing against it. Democrats allege the reason Republican legislators want to link the communities of Hillsborough and Pinellas is to protect GOP incumbents whose districts would otherwise lean Democratic.