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2015 Special Session C

House, Senate can’t resolve differences on Senate districts

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The Florida Senate rejected a map to create new districts for itself and adjourned Thursday, leaving the Legislature with its second failed special session this year. The chamber voted 23-16 against the map that the House had approved Tuesday. Senators said the maps were flawed and would divide communities. They also criticized a constitutional amendment that they said forces them to put the shape of a district over the makeup of communities. “The amendments to our constitution pulled the soul…

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House passes redistricting map

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The Florida House of Representatives Tuesday passed its version of a redrawn state Senate district map, sending it back to the Senate for a likely conference process. The map was passed 73-47, with all Democrats in opposition and some Republicans joining them, including state Reps. Matt Gaetz, Chris Latvala and Ray Pilon. A long line of Democrats spoke against the latest map, which includes three contentious Hispanic-majority South Florida seats. “I would love to be able to support this,” said…

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Don Gaetz strikes back against ‘bully’ Jack Latvala

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For the first time in recent memory, a sitting Florida senator invoked the Senate Rules during a floor session to call out a colleague specifically for impugning his integrity. State Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican and previous Senate President, raised a “question of personal privilege” to defend his honor against attacks made in the press by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala. Latvala is vying for the next Senate presidency against Stuart Republican Joe Negron; Gaetz previously committed his support in that…

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Florida Senate may require senators to be on 2016 ballot

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Amid a deepening rift that has split top Republicans, the Florida Senate may require voters in 2016 to pick senators for all forty of the state’s current Senate districts. The move may end a growing and contentious debate that has threatened to derail the 19-day special session that started this week. The GOP-controlled Florida Legislature returned to the Capitol this week to draw new Senate districts, but the dispute over elections was getting louder day by day. Some Senate Republican…

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Legislative chambers revise schedule for final week of Special Session

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The state House and Senate have issued legislative calendar changes for the final week of 2015 Special Session C, which is set to end November 6. The session was convened to amend Senate maps, per an adverse Florida Supreme Court judgment that found the upper chamber violated anti-gerrymandering laws. A number of scheduled hearing times were jointly amended Wednesday afternoon. A meeting of the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee — previously not scheduled to meet during Week 3 — will now meet…

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Two more maps filed for Senate redistricting

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Two more state Senate maps were submitted late Tuesday as part of the ongoing Special Session to redraw the districts, which the chamber previously admitted were gerrymandered to benefit Republicans. State Rep. Matt Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, and state Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, each filed their own map. A cursory review shows that neither map contains districts that cross Tampa Bay. The six staff-drawn “base maps” now being considered by lawmakers all have districts that…

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An angry Tom Lee questions Senate base maps

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A fiery state Sen. Tom Lee lashed out at the Senate’s outside attorney Monday, questioning why he didn’t object to specific allegations of unconstitutionality over the chamber’s current districts. The Legislature began a scheduled three-week Special Session to redraw the state’s 40 districts after the Senate settled a court challenge by admitting its current map was gerrymandered to benefit Republicans and incumbents. Lee, a Brandon Republican, also asked why all of the replacement maps contain districts that cross Tampa Bay when the Supreme Court, in…

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