The Florida Legislature met for less than 15 minutes on the first day of the special session on redistricting. Lawmakers are back in Tallahassee after a circuit judge tossed out the map they drew two years ago of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.
“The instructions were to create a plan that’s consistent with the state constitution, the federal constitution, and then one that specifically addresses the concerns raised by the circuit court,” says Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, chair of the Senate Reapportionment Committee.
Florida's Fair Districts amendments require districts to be compact and not drawn to favor a political party or incumbent. The judge ruled that districts represented by Democrat Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and Republican Daniel Webster of Winter Garden don’t meet those requirements.
House Speaker Will Weatherford told lawmakers they’ll stay as long as it takes to get it right.
“Anyone who submits an amendment will need to provide the House with information such as who drafted the map, what data was used, who reviewed the map and the criteria used by the map drawer,” he said. “We know that this information was a very important part of the court’s review process.”
Weatherford says a revised congressional map would be released Thursday, and members could propose changes during a committee meeting on Friday.
“It is my hope and my belief that we will come together this special session to make the necessary adjustments to get it right,” he says. “The window of time is very narrow -- we did not choose this time frame -- but I am confident we can accomplish the task.”
Voting rights groups that challenged the congressional districts say they’ll submit their own map to the Legislature.
After brief instructions, both chambers adjourned. Committee members will work during the weekend on the new map and resume discussion with lawmakers on Monday in Tallahassee.