Screengrab via CPAC/YouTube
Lawmakers are going to let Gov. Ron DeSantis design the state’s new congressional lines, after he vetoed their initial proposal and called them back to Tallahassee for a special legislative session to draw a new map.
In a joint message to members ahead of next week’s special session, Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, wrote Monday that their aides won’t be tasked with undertaking a second effort on the once-a-decade congressional redistricting process.
“Our goal during the special session is to pass a new congressional map that will both earn the governor’s signature and withstand legal scrutiny, if challenged,” the joint memo said. “At this time, legislative reapportionment staff is not drafting or producing a map for introduction during the special session. We are awaiting a communication from the governor’s office with a map that he will support. Our intention is to provide the governor’s office opportunities to present that information before House and Senate redistricting committees.”
Lawmakers anticipate that any map coming out of the special session will face legal challenges.
State and federal lawsuits have been filed asking judges to step in to revamp the congressional districts, in part because of the impasse between the governor and lawmakers over the lines.
DeSantis vetoed an initial legislative proposal, which consisted of a primary and backup map, on March 29.
Legislative leaders have argued that their maps followed the “Fair Districts” constitutional amendments, which voters passed in 2010 to prevent gerrymandering. But DeSantis contends that the way lawmakers have interpreted the constitutional amendments doesn’t comply with the U.S. Constitution.
Maps for state House and state Senate districts drew relatively little controversy, but DeSantis targeted the congressional map and took the unusual step for a governor of pushing his own district designs.
The most prominent change sought by DeSantis would be to condense Congressional District 5 in the Jacksonville area.
DeSantis’ general counsel said the Legislature’s approach to the sprawling North Florida district would violate the Equal Protection Clause because it “assigns voters primarily on the basis of race but is not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest.”
The seat, held by Congressman Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, was drawn in the past to help elect a minority candidate and stretches from Jacksonville to west of Tallahassee.
Lawson’s district is one of two historically Black districts that would be vastly altered under a congressional map proposed by the governor’…….