The Senate Redistricting Committee released new proposed Senate and congressional district maps late Friday — a move staff director John Guthrie said will respond to issues raised at a legislative hearing earlier in December and a follow-up meeting with state elections officials.
The Senate had earlier unveiled only one map each for the Senate and congressional plans, compared with the House, which unveiled seven proposals for redrawing congressional lines and five for the House.
Guthrie said Friday that after hearing questions from lawmakers, taking public testimony, and then later meeting with elections officials in Orlando who raised voter-access issues, it became apparent to Senate Redistricting Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, that some fixes were needed.
The proposals will go before Gaetz’s committee when it meets Jan. 11 — a day after lawmakers convene the 2012 session.
The Senate plan’s biggest change is a renumbering of the 40 Senate districts, an effort to balance the number of senators that would be forced to run for two-year terms, before seeking a full four-year term. The state constitution requires some senators to seek two-year terms in the next election after reapportionment to maintain staggered Senate terms.
The congressional maps most striking changes occur in two Gulf Coast districts. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s District 13 would be changed to include a portion of coastal Charlotte County. Neighboring District 12, which U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross serves, is reworked to accommodate the Charlotte County move.