Lawmakers released a re-drawn congressional map Thursday which would shift the contours of seven U.S. House districts spread throughout Central Florida. On the first day of a court-ordered special session, House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, showed how they plan to resolve the two improperly gerrymandered congressional districts held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden. The new map would shift the city of Sanford out of Brown’s seat, and remove an “appendage” of voters in Orange County out of Webster’s. It would drop the black voting-age population of Brown’s seat from 50 percent down to 48.1 percent, and shave some GOP voters from Webster’s seat. But it also changes the maps of five other congressional seats, within 23 counties. Lawmakers said they made those changes in order to solve overall compactness issues with their original plan. “It was not just the two appendages. We needed to address compactness as a whole,” said Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who added it improved the “serpentine-like” shape of Brown’s seat.
The new proposal also shifts the district of Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, further into Orange County and takes away a swath of southern Osceola County — which is shunted into the District 17 seat held by Republican Tom Rooney.
The maps are slated for committee votes Friday and floor votes early next week before going back before Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who ruled last month GOP consultants made a “mockery” of Florida’s 2012 redistricting and has yet to decide whether to schedule special elections.