Senate rejects House’s redistricting map — sets a nighttime bargaining session

Redistricting Chairs Rep. Jose Oliva (left) and Sen. Bill Galvano. (House photo)
Redistricting Chairs Rep. Jose Oliva (left) and Sen. Bill Galvano.
(House photo)

The Senate rejected the House’s plan for drawing its district boundaries Wednesday, with lawmakers going back to the bargaining table in hopes of crafting a last-ditch deal.

The House proposal makes changes to what the Senate sought for Miami-Dade County, a move key senators say dilutes Hispanic voting strength and looms as a major flashpoint between the two sides.

But district lines in Central and Northeast Florida also drew criticism from senators during a brief Wednesday afternoon session.

Senate Redistricting Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and his House counterpart, Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, are scheduled to huddle Wednesday night to work on a compromise plan.

With the three-week special session set to conclude at 3 p.m. Friday, prospects of another deadlock looms between the two sides.

An August special session to draw congressional boundaries ended in a standoff that leaves the Florida Supreme Court now in charge of finalizing those district lines for next year’s elections.

A similar fate could await Senate boundaries. The Senate map limped out of the chamber on a 22-18 vote last week – and the House plan was dead on arrival.

Now the looming question is whether a compromise map can get enough votes to clear the Senate, where emotions are political concerns are running hot.

“This is not a fuzzy policy bill where you’re going to get 40 votes,” Galvano said of the 40-member Senate. “Lines move. Things move. People have their own experiences in different parts of the state. This is never going to be a large margin type of vote.”

House ‘Groundhog Day’ includes approval of a Senate map

House Redistricting Chair Jose Oliva, R-Miami
House Redistricting Chair Jose Oliva, R-Miami

The House approved a proposal Tuesday redrawing Senate districts but also opening the door to further negotiations with senators on a compromise map while the special session lurches toward the finish line.

The plan approved 73-47 by the House diverges sharply from what the Senate narrowly OK’d last week – particularly in dealing with South Florida seats.

But with lawmakers slated to end their three-week session Friday, the clash sets up the possibility of yet another deadlock between Republican leaders in the House and Senate.

The two sides already have dueled this year over health care, battled through a costly extra session on the state budget, and two go-arounds on redistricting, the first ending in a bitter stalemate.

“It seems like we’re stuck in a Groundhog Day movie here in Tallahassee,” Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, told the House, citing the 1993 film that depicted a man doomed to repeat the same day over and over again.

House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, said he couldn’t provide Berman and other skeptics “that kind of assurance,” that an accord could be reached between the two sides.

But he added, “This is a map that will stand up to the Constitution and a map, I believe, that the Senate will pass.”

Moments after approving the plan, the House formally asked the Senate to either accept the proposal – or agree to form a conference committee between the two sides to hash out differences.

Senate leaders didn’t immediately respond.

“I don’t know if we are standing at the end…or we are standing here just at the middle of this process,” said House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, told the House.

Is House on collision course with Senate (again) on redistricting?

Rep. Jose Oliva says he hopes a collision with Senate doesn't await
Rep. Jose Oliva says he hopes a collision with Senate doesn’t await

The House and Senate are again going separate ways in drawing redistricting boundaries, with the two sides at odds over a plan advanced by a House panel.

Among the changes, the House proposal crafts the Senate’s 40 seats to put the residences of three Palm Beach County Democrats in the same district, while linking portions of a map crafted by a voters’ coalition with changes sought by House leaders.

The map cleared the Republican-controlled House Redistricting Committee on a 9-4, party-line vote, with Democrats opposing the measure.

But with lawmakers set to end their three-week special session Friday, the departure from the Senate plan – narrowly approved last week – threatens to leave the two sides at deadlock.

An August special session on congressional redistricting also collapsed when the two sides couldn’t agree on a map.

“I hope not,” House Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, said of the possibility of a looming standoff with the Senate.

He added, “We feel that what we have done is we’ve taken everyone’s concerns, put them together, in a more numerically superior map in the hopes of being able to pass it. So, no, I don’t anticipate a collision course with the Senate.”

In Palm Beach County, the House mash-up map could cause some political upheaval.

The district now held by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, would be moved out of the Jupiter-Tequesta area it currently holds, instead containing Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties, similar to what the Senate proposed.

But the three remaining Palm Beach County districts currently held by Democratic Sens. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, Joe Abruzzo of Wellington and Maria Sachs of Delray Beach, undergo some transformation in the House plan.

For starters, the residences of all three lawmakers are lumped into the same center county district, which is similar similar to the one Clemens now holds.

But Abruzzo and Sachs might have to choose which of the remaining two districts look most like their current boundaries — since the House splices together pieces of each.

What looks like Abruzzo’s current, western county district courses in the House proposal from the Glades region south into Boca Raton, then curves into Broward County, taking in parts of Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach.

The south county and Broward communities are areas Sachs currently represents, so she also might stake a claim to that district.

The third and last county seats ranges north to the Martin County line, taking in West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and such Republican-leaning communities as Jupiter, Tequesta, Juno Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.

As Halloween nears, House proposes monster mash-up of maps

House redistricting map for Senate makes big changes in Palm Beach County
House redistricting map for Senate makes big changes in Palm Beach County

When it comes to drawing Florida Senate district boundaries, senators have already reviewed a few maps that borrowed concepts from other proposals — a process they started calling “Frankenstein” maps.

Just in time for Halloween, the House did its own version Friday of a monster mash-up of maps.

House proposes monster mash-up of maps.
House proposes monster mash-up of maps.

Redistricting Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, unveiled proposed district lines for the other chamber that takes what the Senate approved this week — and adds some pieces of a map recommended by a voters’ coalition.

But while the coalition, led by the Florida League of Women Voters, would have kept four Senate districts in Palm Beach County, the House goes along with the Senate plan that reduces the county to three seats.

But – Igor-like — it adds a few new twists.

The district now held by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, would be moved out of the Jupiter-Tequesta area it currently holds, instead containing Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties, similar to what the Senate has proposed.

But the three remaining Palm Beach County districts currently held by Democratic Sens. Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth, Joe Abruzzo of Wellington and Maria Sachs of Delray Beach, undergo some transformation in the House plan.

A central county district similar to the one Clemens now holds would still exist. But Abruzzo and Sachs might have to choose which of the remaining two districts look most like their current boundaries — since the House splices together pieces of each.

What looks like Abruzzo’s current, western county district courses in the House proposal from the Glades region south into Boca Raton, then curves into Broward County, taking in parts of Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach.

The south county and Broward communities are areas Sachs currently represents, so she also might stake a claim to that district.

The third and last county seats ranges north to the Martin County line, taking in West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach and such Republican-leaning communities as Jupiter, Tequesta, Juno Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.

Hard to tell which of the county’s Democratic senators are eager for that seat.

The proposal is set to go before Oliva’s Redistricting Committee on Monday. With lawmakers looking to end a three-week special session on redistricting next Friday, it’s difficult to gauge what plan will emerge as final.

But for now, the House proposal — is alive.