Under a pressing deadline to avoid more redistricting gridlock, Florida lawmakers formally began talks late Wednesday to resolve the differences in their plans to redraw 40 state Senate districts. The House and Senate have passed competing redistricting plans, with the main differences centering on districts in Miami-Dade County. The special session to redraw the districts is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. Friday. “I don’t think there’s any way that politicians can even-handedly draw their own maps,” Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, said after senators voted to reject a version approved Tuesday by the House. “If we really want to fulfill the intent of the fair districts amendment, we need an independent redistricting commission.” Now, staffers from the House and Senate will likely draw another map in an attempt to reconcile the chambers.
Three staffers have already drawn six “base maps” designed to follow anti-gerrymandering provisions in the constitution. One of those maps was selected by the Senate, but was amended by Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, to protect three Hispanic districts. He doesn’t believe the changes made to those districts by the House will result in three Hispanic seats in the county.
“That map takes three Hispanic seats in Miami-Dade County and turns them into two,” Diaz de la Portilla said.