As congressional mapmakers defended their versions of districts in a hearing before a Tallahassee judge, the House and Senate announced Friday that they had reached agreement on how to move forward with a process to draw new lines for the state Senate in a special session starting next month. There were few revelations during Friday’s hearing on the congressional districts, expected to wrap up Monday. Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis is expected to either choose one of seven maps — offered by lawmakers, voting-rights organizations, and a group of voters backed by the Florida Democratic Party — or combine the maps in a new proposal. Ultimately, Lewis’ recommendation will go to the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled in July that a map approved by the Legislature in 2012 and tweaked two years later violated a voter-approved constitutional ban on political gerrymandering.
During his testimony Friday morning, Sen. Tom Lee said he wasn’t attempting to draw a congressional district for himself when he offered a map consolidating eastern Hillsborough County during a special redistricting session last month. The map proposed by Lee contributed to the implosion of the special session without an agreement on districts, which left the task to Lewis.
House lawmakers did not want to make sweeping changes to a “base map” drawn by aides that was aimed at fixing the problems found by the Florida Supreme Court.