Florida Senate advances on new political maps

Florida senators wasted little time on Monday pushing forward potential new district lines for themselves and the state’s growing congressional delegation as part of the once-a-decade redistribution process.

Members of the Senate Special Committee on Congressional Redistribution and the Special Committee on Legislative Redistribution have each sent two staff-recommended cards to the Full Redistribution Committee, which will review the proposals on Thursday.

While the proposed changes in the State Senate lines (S 8046 and S 8050) could affect several incumbents in South Florida, in particular Sen. Ileana Garcia, R-Miami, Sen. Jason Pizzo, D- North Miami Beach and Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, the biggest concerns raised on Monday were about the Senate district which would include rural Gilchrist County in North Florida and the potential impacts on the minority-majority District 33 of the Broward County.

“We just need more discussion, more analysis on these cards,” said Senator Randolph Bracy, an Ocoee Democrat who sits on the legislative reallocation subcommittee.

Subcommittee chair Senator Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, said the panel was tasked with presenting “as narrow and narrow an option as possible” to the entire redistribution committee.

The Senate draws maps of the Senate, while the House draws maps of the State. Both chambers draw maps of Congress.

Concerns continued to be raised on Monday over the State House proposals, which drew more criticism over partisanship and are expected to be discussed on Tuesday.

Lisa Hall, President and CEO of the Fair Districts Coalition Executive Committee, wrote to House Redistricting President Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach on Monday, regarding the need for “meaningful” public. Florida voters in 2010 passed what are known as the Fair District Constitutional Amendments, which were designed to guide redistribution.

Hall, who argues that the proposed house plans do not appear to comply with Fair District amendments or federal law, questioned holding plans meetings in the middle of the workday without people being able to make appearances from a distance. At the same time, she questioned House subcommittees that were holding meetings simultaneously, making it “impossible or extremely difficult for a concerned citizen to attend both”.

“We ask that you provide opportunities for real public comment by real people on real maps that lawmakers can hear in real time,” Hall wrote. “While we appreciate that you have created a public (online) portal, we also know that members have been discouraged from accepting comments entered into the portal unless they know the source of the comments. “

From 13 potential maps, including one tabled by Senator Darryl Rouson, D-St. In St. Petersburg, the Senate redistribution sub-committee of Congress on Monday supported two staff proposals (C 8038 and C 8040).

The Senate would create a new Congressional District in Republican-leaning Polk County, with little variation in South Florida and Central Florida. The state receives an additional district this year due to population growth in the US census.

The math is that while 16 districts went to former Republican President Donald Trump in 2020 and 12 to Democratic President Joe Biden, the GOP districts would drop to 17 according to the Senate proposal.

“8038 and 8040 (the Senate Congress proposals) are more compact in all three mathematical measures, keep 10 additional cities whole, and decrease the average use of non-political and geographic boundaries by three percentage points,” said Jay Ferrin, personnel director of the Senate Redistribution Commission.

Rouson’s proposal focused primarily on Tampa.

Rouson has sought to keep Congressional District 14, a seat held by Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor, only in Hillsborough County and to avoid dividing towns in Pinellas County, which are part of District 13. Democrat Charlie Crist represents District 13 but is running as governor this year.

However, congressional redistribution subcommittee chair Jennifer Bradley said Rouson’s proposal would reduce the compactness of neighboring Districts 12 and 15.

Florida League of Voters President Cecile Scoon continued to uphold the need to use data that increases the ability of minority communities to elect people they want. The league is a member of the Fair Districts Coalition.

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