Senators on Tuesday will debate a plan to redraw 40 Senate districts that could shift the partisan make-up of the chamber, the leadership of the body and the political futures of the members. Republican legislative leaders are hoping to avoid another rebuke from the courts as well as another stalemate between the House and the Senate, as happened in August when the two chambers didn’t agree to a plan redrawing congressional districts. But the new redistricting plan has sparked plenty of disagreement within the Senate itself. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who is currently battling with Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, to become Senate President after the 2016 elections, issued a strong critique of the new plan for not drawing enough incumbents into districts with each other. He suggested the courts could again strike the maps down because they could be seen as being drawn to protect incumbents. “Unfortunately, I see in this plan today . . . I see history repeating itself,” Latvala said during a hearing Friday.
Lawmakers are in a special session to redraw the Senate maps after the chambers’ leaders admitted they violated the constitution’s anti-gerrymandering provisions in drawing the previous plan.
In deciding a similar case in July over congressional districts, the Florida Supreme Court threw out the maps, ruling that GOP leaders colluded with Republican operatives to pack Democratic voters in one Central Florida district to make surrounding districts safer for Republicans. Much of the same evidence was to be used in a trial over the Senate districts.
Full Article: Senate girds for redistricting debate – Orlando Sentinel.