NewsFlorida News


Mums the word for staff as redistricting session nears

Florida Capital
Posted at 4:19 PM, Aug 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-09 10:34:03-04


TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Legislative staffers have been told not to discuss how new congressional districts are being crafted, as the House and Senate released schedules Tuesday for the upcoming special legislative session.

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Bill Galvano, while issuing a lip-tightening advisory, also Tuesday filed a placeholder bill (SB 2-A) for the new district lines.

The focus of the $68,245 per-day session that begins Thursday will be to redraw congressional districts 5 and 10, which Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis has ruled violate the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments that voters approved in 2010.

District 5, represented by Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown, winds from Jacksonville to Orlando. District 10, represented by Republican Congressman Dan Webster, is in the Orlando area.

Additional changes may also be needed for other districts impacted by the changes to districts 5 and 10, Galvano wrote in a memo to other senators Tuesday.

Meanwhile, legislative staff members have been told not to discuss the upcoming map-remaking process. That could be a nod to testimony during the recent redistricting trial that revealed details about secret meetings, email exchanges and map-swapping among Republican Party operatives and legislative staff.

"I have additionally directed our staff to refrain from discussing their map-drawing efforts with anyone outside of the Legislature except our legal counsel and not to share their work product with any outside interests in advance of the public release of the remedial plan," Galvano, R-Bradenton, said in the memo.

Rep. Richard Corcoran, a Land O' Lakes Republican who is the chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, offered similar directions in a memo Tuesday.

"House Redistricting Committee staff have been informed that they are to have no interactions with any member of Congress, Congressional staffer or aide, or with any political consultant," Corcoran wrote. "If any member of the House suggests to Redistricting Committee staff that a plan be changed with an intent to favor or disfavor any incumbent or political party, staff should disregard the suggestion entirely and report the conversation directly to me."

The House and Senate will be gaveled in separately at noon Thursday. Later that day, the two committees assigned to approve the new lines will hold a joint meeting, where they will be advised of their options regarding the ruling handed down by Lewis.

The committees are expected to separately give their support to new maps Friday.

The House will return at 10 a.m. Monday, with the Senate back in Tallahassee at noon that day to consider a bill.

Both chambers have set aside time starting, at 10 a.m. each day for the rest of the week, if additional work is needed.

Galvano noted there could be conference sessions between the two chambers during the week.

Legislators have been authorized to travel Wednesday to Tallahassee. Lawmakers will be reimbursed for one round-trip home during the session, along with per-diem travel expenses or lodging at a single occupancy rate plus a meal allowance.