How the Senate rolls: Lottery system planned to choose district numbersby John Kennedy | March 21st, 2012
The Senate Reapportionment Committee brought out lottery balls in spinning cages Wednesday as senators tried to devise a system where the number of Senate districts would not be seen as favoring certain incumbents.
The Florida Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the Senate’s first attempt at drawing district lines. Among the problems justices found, was district numbering that would have allowed most incumbents to serve for as long as 10 years, which the court said defied the state’s constitutional eight-year term limits.
Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, advanced the idea of a lottery system to choose district numbers which would determine whether a seat is for a four-year or two-year term this fall.
Most of the committee agreed to the concept. But some questioned the technique.
Sen. David Simmons, R-Maitland, said spinning lottery balls in cages on the Senate floor would disrupt the chamber’s “decorum.” He suggested the lottery be held in the offices of the Senate secretary with videotape rolling.
“We will not have the fanfare, but the integrity of the Senate will be assured,” Simmons said.
But like most issues in the Senate, battle lines quickly emerged. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said that if the lottery method was used, it was necessary that it be conducted on the Senate floor.
“I believe strongly that whatever we do has to be done on the floor of the Senate in front of God and everyone,” Latvala said.
After a heated debate, the committee has deferred a decision on the numbering system until the redistricting plan goes to the Senate floor.