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Redistricting session ends in impasse

The Florida Legislature’s special session to produce a new district map for the state’s 27 congressional seats failed to produce results, with the Republican-led House and Senate nowhere near agreement on the issue as of late last week.  The two chambers adjourned on Friday, Aug. 21, with the House and Senate at an impasse on the map. The two chambers had earlier passed conflicting maps that differed most sharply on Hillsborough, Sarasota and Orange counties, with neither side willing to compromise. Meaning that the courts may yet have to draw the map, abhorrent as legislators find this option. As reported by Bill Cotterell in the Tallahassee Democrat on Saturday, Aug. 22: “The House passed a ‘base map’ drawn up by staff aides and attorneys to carry out the Supreme Court’s directions, but the Senate countered with changes that put all of Sarasota County in one district and moved an adjoining district to include all of east and south Hillsborough County.”

The Senate plan, moreover, would have split Orange County four ways, with no single district completely within its borders, while Hillsborough would get a whole district, according to Cotterell’s report. Both plans, Cotterell reported, would have split Leon and Jefferson counties between a new minority-access district to the north -- running from Jacksonville to Gadsden County -- and a large district to the south, extending from the Panama City area to near Ocala. Madison County, for its part, would have resided entirely within the new minority-access district that would have extended from Jacksonville to Gadsden County. Another special legislative session is set in October to realign the 40 districts that comprise the state Senate. The Florida Supreme Court on July 9 ordered the redrawing of the eight congressional districts following a trial the year before where the circuit court judge found that the Republican leadership had violated the 2010 constitutional amendment requiring that maps be drawn without regard to incumbent protection or partisan advantages in Congress.

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