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Will lawmakers, governor find compromise on congressional maps during special session?

'I think there's a great chance that the courts end up drawing the maps,' Sen. Jeff Brandes says
Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 18:20:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In less than two weeks, state lawmakers will again try to craft congressional redistricting maps in a special session. Some lawmakers doubt they will be successful.

The governor vetoed the last pair for violating the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. His attorneys cited the minority-controlled fifth district as containing "racial gerrymanders."

DeSantis told reporters this week he expected the two branches of government would reach a compromise.

"It's going to end up working out," DeSantis said Tuesday. "At the end of the day, we're not going to just let a court draw the congressional map."

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, however, doesn't think it will be that easy.

"I think there's a great chance that the courts end up drawing the maps because the Legislature and the governor can't agree," Brandes said.

Sen. Jeff Brandes speaks about special session
Sen. Jeff Brandes shares his thoughts about the upcoming special session regarding congressional redestricting.

Brandes told us that lawmakers followed Florida's "Fair Districts" provision aimed at protecting minority voters.

He called the governor's argument "interesting" but suggested this wasn't the time or place as primary and general election dates draw closer.

"You're asking the Legislature to knowingly violate the state constitution in order to create a legal precedent to go to the U.S. Supreme Court," Brandes said. "I think it's a legal battle that's not going to be resolved in the next six weeks, which is when essentially you have to have the maps done in order to have candidates file for the appropriate districts."

Advocacy groups, meanwhile, have started pressuring the House and Senate to hold firm on their maps.

Equal Ground, which focuses efforts on boosting Black voters, launched a digital campaign this week targeting 2.5 million Floridians, urging them to contact lawmakers and send this email.

Jasmine Burney-Clark,
Jasmine Burney-Clark is the founder of the group Equal Ground.

"There are communities at stake here … and we know that our governor has plans that are driven by his ambition to be president," said Jasmine Burney-Clark, Equal Ground's founder. "Black representation is a factor in whether or not he can fulfill those hopes and dreams."

The group will face a formidable challenge.

The governor wields considerable political sway over the GOP majority and has yet to approve the budget. It contains many member projects DeSantis could easily veto.

Lawmakers gavel in the special legislative session on April 19. It will conclude on April 22. Despite calls to broaden its scope, for now, its focus remains on congressional maps.