Florida Senate OK's congressional boundaries, looks to work with House on final deal

John Kennedy | Palm Beach Post | 08/19/2015

The Florida Senate approved its version of a congressional map 28-8 Tuesday, with Redistricting Chief Bill Galvano saying he hopes soon to huddle with House counterpart, Rep. Jose Oliva, to resolve differences with that chamber.

While the House approved a “base” map drawn by legislative staff, the Senate proposal makes changes in Hillsborough, Sarasota and Manatee counties, which also ripple across parts of Central Florida.

Galvano said the Senate approach is more “constitutionally complaint than the base

map.”

Lawmakers are in the homestretch of a 12-day special session that is slated to end Friday. Galvano and Oliva are expected to meet to work on trying to come up with a final map both sides can accept.

Last ditch attempt to keep Frankel, Deutch districts vertical falls flat

With the Florida Senate poised to advance congressional boundaries that overhaul districts held by Palm Beach County Democrats Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch, a last-ditch bid fell short Wednesday in keeping them mostly in the current shape.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, couldn’t get the Senate to go along with his proposal to maintain the north-south, Broward-Palm Beach shape of Districts 22 and 21.

Senators balked at the bid, citing that Clemens’ attempt at maintaining the vertical shape of the districts reduced the black voting age population of U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings’ nearby District 20.

“That’s a problem,” said Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who said the move could run afoul of federal Voting Rights Act standards.

Clemens argued that Hastings’ district was still likely to support a minority candidate, even if some voters were moved into Deutch’s District 21.

He also pointed to a host of officials from Broward and Palm Beach counties, who have testified before legislative committees urging that Frankel’s and Deutch’s districts be left untouched.

The two districts were among the eight congressional seats cited by justices in their ruling last month which overturned the current boundaries.

The court said the pair could be made more compact by realigning them to where Frankel’s district took in much of Broward, along with Boca Raton and Highland Beach, and Deutch’s district was moved completely within Palm Beach.

Justices, however left open the possibility that the vertical shape could still be justified by lawmakers.

Clemens’ amendment was the second attempt by area lawmakers to keep Districts 22 and 21 vertical. Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth, tried to get a House committee to go along with the approach last week, but similarly was voted down.


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