After a second consecutive redistricting session fell apart Thursday and the Legislature went home yet again without passing a map, lawmakers’ message was more or less: We told you so. Five years ago, with voters set to decide whether to add the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” amendments to the Florida Constitution, legislative leaders argued against it. The standards were unworkable, they argued. Despite language calling for cities and counties to be kept whole, communities that had similar interests could be divided or disregarded. The amendments would lead to endless litigation and could become a quagmire. And with the collapse this week of a special session called to redraw the 40 state Senate districts, two of the three maps once controlled by the Legislature will instead be selected by the courts. Later this week, the Florida Supreme Court will consider whether to accept a Leon County judge’s recommendation that a map submitted by voting-rights groups be used for Florida’s congressional elections.
“I think the amendments may be unworkable, to be frank with you,” said Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, after a bipartisan group of senators rebelled and defeated a House-drawn Senate map that legislative leaders wanted both chambers to adopt.
Not even all Republicans share Galvano’s opinion. After all, a state House map drawn in 2012 as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process has not been challenged and will apparently stand until the lines are moved again in 2022. “This is a difficult process,” said House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes. “It’s not impossible. It’s certainly not ideal.”