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House, Senate seek to bridge differences on Senate districts

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The Florida House and Senate are trying to work out their differences on political boundaries for state Senate districts.

The Senate decided Wednesday to go to conference with the House after the two chambers approved different maps for the 40 Senate districts. During a meeting Wednesday night, Senate Chair Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, brought up concerns raised during Wednesday’s Senate session about how the House-approved map has certain districts drawn in Lake, Duval and Miami-Dade counties.

After brief discussions, Galvano and House Chair Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, instructed their staffs to look at the base maps to try and keep three Hispanic-majority seats in Miami-Dade. The proposed House map has only two.

The committee is expected to meet again Thursday morning. The GOP-controlled Legislature has until Friday to agree on a new Senate map. This is the third special session of the year.

“The real goal is to return the legislative branch to its proper role and to do it in a way that is legal. I would hope that the court would see that we have a legal process that has been carried out,” Oliva said.

Legislators were forced to draw new Senate districts because the Senate admitted earlier this year that senators had violated the state constitution while drawing up the current districts.

Voters in 2010 passed an amendment that says districts cannot be drawn to help incumbents or a member of a political party.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate failed to come to an agreement on new congressional maps.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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