A House panel Friday worked to narrow the number of plans for Florida legislative and congressional boundaries, even as a U.S. Supreme Court ruling strengthened the Legislature’s hand in drawing new district boundaries. The House Redistricting Committee centered on one map each for House, Senate and congressional lines, heading toward a scheduled vote next week. The House is playing catch-up to the Senate, which earlier this week approved its own set of maps. “We’re moving as quickly as we can, but not to the detriment of the public or the membership” (of the Legislature), said Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
Florida’s current district boundaries have helped Republicans win a supermajority of seats in the Legislature, along with 19 of the state’s 25 congressional seats, even though Democrats outnumber the GOP statewide by 500,000 registered voters.
The Republican-controlled Senate’s approval of new maps last week came with a stern warning from Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich of Weston, who predicted they would be rejected by a state court or U.S. Justice Department, which must endorse the final plans. Florida Democrats and allied organizations have suggested courts would craft maps more fairly than the GOP-led Legislature.