Florida redistricting

New State Senate Numbers Set Off Tampa Bay Scramble

Jan 5, 2016
Wilton Simpson

A random renumbering process Tuesday for the newest version of state Senate districts could force lawmakers across Florida into critical decisions --- including a decision that might create a high-profile match-up between incumbent Republicans in Pasco County.

Plaintiffs Back Off Changes to Tampa-Area Districts

Nov 25, 2015

A coalition of voting-rights organizations has withdrawn two state Senate redistricting proposals it had submitted to a Leon County judge, virtually ensuring that at least one district will cross Tampa Bay when the legal fight ends.

The coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida, announced the move one day before the groups and the Legislature are set to file briefs with Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds objecting to each other's maps. The state Senate has submitted a single map that would cross the bay.

The House redistricting committee voted along party lines Monday to approve its version of new districts for the state Senate, potentially setting up a battle with the upper chamber as a special session on the map entered its final week.

On a 9-4 vote, the Select Committee on Redistricting's Republican majority pushed through a proposal by Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, that sets aside a compromise on South Florida seats struck in the Senate last week.

Senate Narrowly Approves Redistricting Plan

Oct 29, 2015

The Republican-controlled state Senate narrowly approved a new map of the chamber's 40 districts Wednesday, moving forward with a plan that opponents said was certain to be struck down by the courts.

Senate Map Highlights Leadership Fight

Oct 25, 2015

A set of proposed districts for the state Senate passed a key committee late last week on a party-line vote, even as a fight over the future leadership of the chamber and other concerns raised doubts about the ability of the fractious Republican majority to push the plan through the full Senate.

Florida Senate staff are using a random computer system to decide which Senators will have to run for re-election next year or get more time to stay in office.

Florida Senate

Despite a bumpy and contentious year, the Republican-led Florida Legislature returns to the state Capitol on Monday with the goal of trying to draw up new maps for 40 state Senate districts.

This marks the third special session of the year for legislators, and also marks the third time that lawmakers have altered the boundaries of state Senate districts since 2012. This session is scheduled to last up to 19 days.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis recommended Friday that the Florida Supreme Court adopt a set of congressional districts proposed by voting-rights organizations.

The ruling is a blow to the state House and Senate, which argued that maps drawn by lawmakers and aides would better comply with Florida's anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" standards.

As congressional mapmakers defended their versions of districts in a hearing before a Tallahassee judge, the House and Senate announced Friday that they had reached agreement on how to move forward with a process to draw new lines for the state Senate in a special session starting next month.

Lawyers for the Florida House are asking the state Supreme Court to allow them to dig deeper into the origins of proposed congressional districts submitted by organizations and voters who successfully sued to overturn a map drawn by the Legislature in 2012.

In a brief filed Thursday, the House's attorneys argued they need more evidence about how the plaintiffs' proposed districts came about, given that a coalition of voting-rights organizations and a group of voters worked with Democratic political operatives to draw maps submitted this week in Leon County circuit court.

Florida League of Women Voters

A Tallahassee circuit judge is looking over seven maps that could determine the state's new Congressional districts. Three come from the League of Women Voters of Florida.

House Files Congressional Plan as Deadline Delayed

Sep 14, 2015

The Florida House late Monday turned in a plan for redrawing the state's 27 congressional districts, despite a court deadline for submitting proposed maps getting pushed back a day.

All of the parties involved in a legal fight over the shape of the state's congressional districts have until Monday to submit maps they believe should be used in the looming 2016 elections, a Leon County judge ruled Friday.

An order approved by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis lays out the timeline for the latest stage of the courtroom battle, now in its fourth year. The Legislature's version of the congressional map was thrown out in July by the Florida Supreme Court, which said the plan violated the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" standards approved by voters in 2010.

Justices Send State Redistricting Battle To Lower Court

Sep 4, 2015

After lawmakers failed last month to agree on a congressional redistricting plan, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday sent the issue back to a circuit judge who will try to piece together a map that meets constitutional requirements.

The Supreme Court left open the possibility that the Legislature could still hold another session and redraw districts. But it also made clear it won't wait long, giving Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis until Oct. 17 to handle the case --- and refusing a House request for more time.

The House headed to court Monday as the next step in a heated battle with the Senate over how to redraw Florida's 27 congressional districts.

Redistricting Session Falls Apart Amid House-Senate Battle

Aug 21, 2015

A special session called to redraw state congressional lines was derailed Friday, the latest sign of growing acrimony between Republican leaders of the House and Senate.

Documents Show Private Discussions In Senate Redistricting

Aug 21, 2015

Senate leaders crafting new districts for the chamber in 2012 held confidential meetings to discuss maps with lawmakers before the maps were made public, while at the same time boasting about "the most open and transparent redistricting process in Florida's history," according to court documents.

The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature now has two rival maps for Congress.

State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, and others argue that such a split would dilute the county’s political clout and ability to advocate on federal issues. Some believe southern Sarasota County would become an afterthought if it is shifted out of Buchanan’s district and into a sprawling district that stretches across inland Florida. “I’m not going to just sit there and take it,” Detert said.

A starting point for new Florida Congressional districts has been revealed and it’s setting off a firestorm among incumbents, and future candidates.  As state lawmakers prepare to draw the districts for a third time, the fourth lawsuit over the process has been launched.

Photo: WESH TV/Orlando

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown went to court Thursday to stop Florida lawmakers from redrawing her congressional district, saying their efforts will deny African-Americans political representation.

Brown and other black leaders in central Florida filed to intervene in an already existing lawsuit that challenged the current shape of her district on the grounds that it created “racial packing” by unnecessarily putting a large number of African American voters together in a district.

The state Legislature has released its base map for next week’s special session.

Lawmakers return to Tallahassee next Monday to redraw the state’s congressional borders, and Wednesday leadership released the map that will serve as the session’s starting point.  Completely gone is the snaking North-South District 5 currently represented by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL5).  Instead, it now runs along the northern border of the state from Liberty to Duval County. 

The Legislature will begin its special session next week, but drafting of the base map—the session’s starting point—has already begun.  Voting rights groups are upset it isn’t happening in public.

Legislative leaders announced Tuesday they will hold a special session to redraw the state's 40 Senate districts after the chamber acknowledged it violated the state constitution by creating maps that benefit Republicans and incumbents.

In about two weeks state lawmakers will gather in Tallahassee to redraw Florida’s congressional borders.  And the scope of those changes is turning races across the state into a game of musical chairs.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist appears likely to run for a Pinellas County congressional seat in 2016, two years after losing a comeback bid for the governor's mansion.

Crist said Monday he will run for Congress if, as expected, he is included in a newly redrawn district that would be friendly to Democrats.

"If the new congressional map includes my home, I intend on running to serve the people again,'' said Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican but later switched parties.

The Florida Legislature will hold a nearly two-week special session in August to draw up new congressional districts.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner announced Monday that the special session will last from Aug. 10 until Aug. 21.

The state Supreme Court earlier this month threw out the state's existing districts. The court ruled that the map violated a voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting political lines from being drawn to favor incumbents or a political party.

Judge Orders Redistricting Done by Sept. 25

Jul 16, 2015

Pointing to a time crunch, a Leon County circuit judge Wednesday gave the Florida Legislature little more than two months to draw new congressional districts and to defend them in court.

Judge George S. Reynolds III issued an order that said a special legislative session to redraw districts and a subsequent trial must be finished by Sept. 25. The order came after the Florida Supreme Court last week tossed out eight congressional districts because it found that lawmakers violated a 2010 constitutional amendment aimed at preventing gerrymandering.

Florida is a state with nearly a half million more registered Democrats than Republicans. You wouldn't know it, though, from the state's seats in Congress — 17 of the 27 congressional seats are held by Republicans.

A lot of factors play into that: the concentration of Democrats in urban areas, the talent Florida's Republican Party has for turning out its voters. But another factor is how the congressional district maps are drawn.

In a momentous ruling Thursday, Florida's Supreme Court has scrambled those maps just over a year before the next election.

The Florida Senate

Now that the Florida Supreme Court has decided that the state's Congressional districts must be redrawn, the two sides of the long-running legal fight over Florida's political boundaries are girding for another battle in the Leon County Courthouse.