The battle is over. Nobody won. Florida lawmakers on Friday conceded defeat on redrawing the state’s congressional district map and headed home. Unless the legislature calls another special session, or the governor orders one, it will likely fall to the courts to draw the map. The legislature had until Aug. 25 to come up with a map, which the Florida Supreme Court was scheduled to review on Sept. 25. Now, the most likely scenario is that lawyers for the House and Senate will each present their versions of a map to the court, which will either approve one or draw something different. The dispute between the two chambers centered on the Senate’s desire to shift district lines in Central Florida, a move that the House did not believe would stand up to the court’s scrutiny. Both maps largely agreed on South Florida, with districts 21 and 22 in Broward and Palm Beach counties being stacked on top of one another, rather than the current side-by-side configuration. If another special session is to occur, it would have to happen before Sept. 25.
The failure to draw congressional lines represented the legislature’s third attempt to do so since the 2010 census. Ordinarily a once-in-a-decade event, the legislature drew new lines in 2012, but a trial court found fault with just a few districts. So a new map was developed in time for the 2014 election. But then, the Florida Supreme Court stepped in and said eight districts, five of them in South Florida, violated the constitution, which requires district lines be compact, contiguous, and not be drawn to favor any party or incumbent.
This failure from this legislature is also its second failed session of the year. Its regular session, held in March and April, didn’t produce a state budget, which is the only requirement the state constitution gives to legislators for an annual session.