Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

House Backs Senate's Districts

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

House Backs Senate's Districts

Article excerpt

NEW MAP: It's headed back to state Supreme Court, which rejected first try

TALLAHASSEE

The Florida House on Tuesday endorsed the Senate's second try at redrawing district lines for state senators, sending the new map to the Florida Supreme Court and ending a 15-day special session.

"This is the right map at the right time," said House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

With little debate or drama, the House quickly moved the Senate map through one committee and a 61-47 floor vote, ending a special session called by Gov. Rick Scott after the Supreme Court rejected the first Senate map. The Senate worked out the details of the plan last week in a lengthy floor session and in a bingo-style drawing to select district numbers.

Not everyone is happy. The Democrats, who hold a minority of seats in the House and Senate, will continue to challenge the map. "We'll see you in court," said Brannon Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party.

The Democrats will argue that the fix still does not overcome objections raised by the Supreme Court, which ruled the original redistricting plan violated state constitutional standards against drawing districts to favor incumbents or political parties. If the court rejects the second map, the justices will draw the new district lines.

Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie, said the revised plan is "equally flawed" as the first Senate redistricting effort. "The reason being it was clearly drawn to benefit incumbents," he said.

An amendment from Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Fort Lauderdale, that would have pitted more Senate incumbents against each other, increased minority representation in several districts and created more compact districts was rejected by the House in a party-line vote.

Hispanic Republicans from Miami-Dade County also voted against the plan, arguing that lawmakers could have created another Hispanic Senate seat in Southeast Florida -- upping the total to four in the region. …

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