After days of listening to how their staff redrew Florida’s 27 congressional districts in relative seclusion, state legislators Wednesday started taking their own turn at re-mapping the state. By the end of the third day of the 12-day special session on redistricting, at least eight state legislators were working on alternative redistricting plans that, in some cases, would significantly change an initial base map that lawmakers started debating Monday. The result is that who represents millions of Floridians in Congress is far from being resolved.Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, took a different approach to halt the Legislature’s entire redistricting process because of how it portends to change the 5th District she has represented since 1993. Brown said she was filing a lawsuit calling on the federal courts to block the Florida Supreme Court’s directive to change her snaking Jacksonville-to-Orlando district because it would reduce the percentage of black residents who are of voting age.
“Today, I filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking relief against the continued use of any congressional redistricting plan that dilutes the voting strength of African Americans,” Brown said in a statement to the media.It was the Florida Supreme Court earlier this summer that ordered the Legislature to meet in a special session to fix the state’s congressional districts. The court ruled that the Legislature’s previous redistricting process was “tainted” and eight of the state’s districts violated constitutional mandates against favoring incumbents or political parties.
Proposed amendments to the Legislature’s base map make clear where the primary battle fronts will be over the course of the next two weeks. Hillsborough, Sarasota, Palm Beach and Leon counties were all key topics Wednesday as legislators raced to prepare new maps in time to be considered during daylong committee hearings planned Thursday and Friday.