Fair Districts advocates blast redistricting plans advancing in Legislatureby John Kennedy | January 27th, 2012
Organizations which backed the voter-approved constitutional amendments guiding redistricting Friday blasted proposed maps slated to be voted on later in the day by the House Redistricting Committee.
In a 12-page letter to House Redistricting chief Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, former state Sen. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat serving as legal counsel to Fair Districts supporters, effectively urged lawmakers to scrap the plans they’ve been working on.
The League of Women Voters, Common Cause and the National Council of La Raza have submitted an alternate approach to district maps that Weatherford today plans to introduce as an amendment to the House plan.
The alternate proposal would “nest” three House districts within the 40-seat state Senate plan, making the boundaries more compact and logical for voters, Gelber said in his letter.
Congressional districts also would meander less, under the proposal. House, Senate and congressional maps recommended by the groups also would lean less Republican and prove more reflective of a state where registered voters are closely divided, with Democrats still holding a 500,000-voter edge.
“In sum, we believe that we have provided the committee with alternative proposals that comply with the Fair Districts amendments, while the proposals currently under consideration by the committee and those already passed by the Senate fail to comply with those amendments,” leaders of the organizations concluded in the letter to Weatherford.
The alternate maps likely stand little chance of being approved today.
But the letter lays out what could emerge as the central argument against the legislative maps when Florida’s redistricting effort advances for review to the state Supreme Court and U.S. Justice Department in coming weeks, and when Fair Districts advocate file an expected legal challenge.