The Florida House of Representatives will begin its work on a new set of Senate maps next week, and it already appears as if state lawmakers will be looking at changing a proposal passed by the Senate this week.
When House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, opened the 2015C special session, he told members his chamber would let the Senate go ahead and be the first to select a base map. The Senate narrowly approved a modified map on Wednesday which is mostly based off of one of the six original maps crafted by legislative staffers, with the exception of four South Florida districts which were redrawn as a result of an amendment from Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Coral Gables.
Diaz de la Portilla said the amendment was necessary for preserving the interest of the Hispanic community in Miami-Dade County, but some Democrats said the lines were drawn to favor incumbents sitting in those districts.
On Friday, House Redistricting Committee Chair Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, told his fellow representatives they would be looking at a different map -- one that takes plaintiffs’ concerns into consideration -- to begin negotiations next week.
“After a thorough review and with careful consideration, I directed the House Redistricting Staff to prepare an amendment that incorporated concepts found in the Plaintiffs’ map that I believe improved the base map,” he wrote.
The new House map has several differences from the Senate map, including changed boundaries for the four South Florida districts.
Like the Senate map, other areas of the state would also be impacted if the House’s map passes -- Sarasota would be in an entirely different district than Sarasota County, and all of Hillsborough County would be kept in one district.
The House will also consider the Senate’s map proposal, though it’s not certain whether it will pass or not.
The three-week long special session is a result of a July ruling from the Florida Supreme Court which demanded state lawmakers head back to the drawing board for the state’s congressional and Senate district lines after state lawmakers conceded they had violated the constitution and gerrymandered districts in 2012.
Oliva told his fellow representatives they had “a lot to consider” in a compressed timeframe.
State lawmakers have until the end of next week to officially agree upon a map which complies with court directions to redraw the state’s Senate districts.
Special session ends Nov. 6.