State Senators try to salvage Florida's congressional redistricting

Jeremy Wallace | Tampa Bay Times | 08/24/2015

The Florida Legislature’s special session on redistricting ended in failure, but that is not stopping a pair of senators from taking one more shot at redrawing the state’s 27 Congressional districts.

Florida Sens Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, and Nancy Detert, R-Venice, late Friday filed a new redistricting plan, even though there is no clear mechanism to take up or vote on the plan. The Legislature’s special session ended on Friday when the House and Senate could not agree to a plan to redraw the state’s Congressional districts. But Detert and Bradley are hoping their new offer could serve as a compromise that could win support if the Legislature does end up back in session to deal with the unfinished business.

“We haven’t given up,” Detert said.

Detert said their plan takes part of the House’s final offer and combines it with her original idea to put all of Sarasota County whole in one congressional district without making any dramatic changes to Hillsborough County as the Senate previously was demanding.

Gone from Detert’s proposal was an idea pushed by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, that would have put all of eastern Hillsborough into the 15th Congressional District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland. Lee’s proposal was opposed by the Florida House last week.

But under Detert’s plan, all of southern Hillsborough – south of the Alafia River — would remain in the 17thDistrict, which is now held mostly by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee.

The Detert plan would also absorb the House’s idea of keeping all of the city of Sunrise in Broward County and Riveria Beach in Palm Beach County together in the 20th Congressional district, now held by U.S. Rep.Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar.

The Legislature is out of session and cannot bring up the Detert-Bradley proposal before a court hearing on the issue of redistricting happens on Tuesday in Tallahassee.

Detert is not on the Senate redistricting committee and was working with Bradley, who is on the committee, to make changes to the plan to fix what she saw happening to Sarasota County. Sarasota was not in one of the 8 congressional districts the Florida Supreme Court ruled in July violated the state constitution, yet the House and Senate map drawers split the county in two and put it in separate congressional districts.

The proposed plan by Bradley and Detert was technically been filed as a new bill that would be taken up in 2016. It already has growing support with Republicans in the Senate. State Sens Joe Negron, Kelli Stargel, Jeff Brandes, Travis Hutson, Aaron Bean, Lizbeth Benacquisto, and Thad Altman have all signed on to be co-sponsors of the compromise bill.


Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE - A contentious battle over Florida state senate districts is coming to an end. read more »

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

01/20/2016
Clearing the way for elections later this year with a map that could boost Democrats' numbers in the Senate, Republican leaders decided Wednesday not to appeal a Leon County judge's ruling setting districts for the chamber's 40 seats. read more »

Florida Senate won't appeal ruling on new districts

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE — Senate leaders said Wednesday that they will not appeal last month's court ruling that sided with a voters' coalition in setting new district boundaries. read more »

Florida Legislature won't appeal redistricting ruling

01/20/2016
TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature is giving up the fight and will not contest a court ruling that redraws all of the state's 40 state senate districts for the 2016 election cycle. read more »

Editorial: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals

01/10/2016
For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge's ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. read more »

Renumbering state Senate districts triggers political scramble

01/10/2016
TALLAHASSEE — It may sound like a simple process, but the Florida Senate's random renumbering of all its districts statewide Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga. read more »