A measure that would cut off one of the main avenues for challenging legislative redistricting plans was approved Wednesday by a House committee, alarming groups that fought maps struck down by the courts in recent years for political gerrymandering. The measure (HB 953), which was substantially broadened by an amendment filed Tuesday evening, passed the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee on a 14-3 vote. The Senate has already approved a much-narrower version of the legislation (SB 352) that would set guidelines for what happens when redistricting legal cases are unresolved in election years.
But the amendment adopted by the House committee would bar any challenges to legislative maps after a routine review by the Florida Supreme Court. It would also require opponents of congressional redistricting plans to file suit within 60 days.
Rep. Larry Ahern, a Seminole Republican who sponsored the measure, told the committee it would give candidates and voters certainty by suspending litigation as elections neared.