Haridopolos plans March 23 vote on redrawn Senate planby John Kennedy | March 12th, 2012
Senate President Mike Haridopolos unveiled guidelines Monday for the Legislature’s upcoming special session to redraw proposed Senate district boundaries, declared unconstitutional last week by the Florida Supreme Court.
Gov. Rick Scott called the session Friday, within hours of the ruling by justices. Lawmakers will convene March 14-28, but the session will be marked by a few starts and stops, Haridopolos explained.
The plan: The Legislature will convene at 1 p.m. Wednesday, with the Senate Reapportionment Committee meeting afterward to be briefed by lawyers about what the court found wrong with the first redistricting map.
Eight districts and the state’s renumbering of districts was found unconstitutional, while justices also expressed “concern” with two Lakeland Senate districts that tied city voters with farflung rural residents.
Justices found boundaries were drawn to help incumbents more easily win re-election. The court also questioned whether the number of Democratic-leaning minority voters placed in some districts was aimed at assuring ruling Republicans could capture more neighboring districts.
Among the districts thrown out by the court are two which span Broward and Palm Beach counties, the seats currently held by Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale.
After meeting Tuesday, the Senate Reapportionment Committee is scheduled to meet again the following Tuesday, March 20. The redrawn map is expected to be ready for floor debate and a final vote on Thursday and Friday, March 22 and 23, Haridopolos said.
The House, whose redistricting plan was upheld by justices, is expected to be mostly bystanders at the session. Senators not on the Reapportionment Committee are authorized to return to their home districts when not needed on the floor.
With the House letting the Senate do its own line-drawing under an agreement reached months ago, many House members also may stay home for most of the scheduled 15-day session.