The Florida Senate on Wednesday recommended to a Leon County judge a plan for the chamber’s 40 districts that was never voted on by either the House or Senate during a recent special redistricting session. The proposal to Circuit Judge George Reynolds, who will ultimately decide which map to suggest to the Florida Supreme Court, would essentially combine two “base maps” that were drawn by legislative aides in the run-up to the special session. Legislative leaders say that process insulated the base maps from political pressures that could have led to violations of the anti-gerrymandering “Fair Districts” amendments approved by voters in 2010. The special redistricting session, prompted by a legal settlement between the Legislature and voting-rights organizations that challenged the current Senate map, ended in failure after lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to redraw the map to fix districts that violated the Fair Districts standards.
The idea to blend two of the base maps is not entirely new. The Senate originally floated the possibility as a way to break the logjam with the House over a handful of seats in South Florida that were central to the disagreement between the two chambers. But the House never accepted any of the Senate’s proposed combinations, and neither side voted on any of those plans. Instead, the Senate voted down the House’s version of the districts and the session ended.
Instead, the Senate voted down the House’s version of the districts and the session ended.
“When the bill failed, the Legislature was left without a map,” Katie Betta, a spokesman for Senate President Andy Gardiner, wrote in an email late Wednesday. “At that point, the decision of what map to present to the court became a question of litigation, not legislative directive. Senate rules vest the authority to manage litigation in the Senate president.”
Full Article: Senate sends combination map to high court.