House votes on maps as Sen. Nan Rich introduces plans

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New maps for the Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation passed three House panels on party-line votes Monday as the Senate Democratic leader unveiled her proposal for the once-a-decade redistricting process, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.

The House subcommittees tasked with drawing lines for the House and Congress each approved three alternatives for those plans, set to be considered by the House Redistricting Committee later this month. The subcommittee set up to address the Senate maps approved the upper chamber’s working version of the plan.

Leaders in both the House and Senate have said they have agreed to essentially pass each other’s maps for their respective chambers.

The congressional plans all passed on party-line votes after some of the strongest Democratic pushback so far in the process. Members of the outnumbered minority caucus argued against passing maps that had not been more thoroughly vetted by the public. Many of the speakers at public hearings across the state last summer complained bitterly that lawmakers didn’t present any options for them to comment on.

“These are the maps that I think they were asking for,” said Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach. “And I don’t believe we can have too much public participation.”

Republicans shot back that time is running short to approve the maps ahead of primaries set for this summer, and contending that the public hearings served their purpose by getting comments on the front end of the process.

“It’s just astounding to me how much public input is included in these maps,” said Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

Jim Roach, a congressional candidate from Southwest Florida, said the new maps would tilt heavily against Democrats. But Republicans said they didn’t consider politics in crafting the plans, following the new redistricting standards approved by voters last year.

Maps for the House itself also passed on a nearly party-line vote, with Democratic Rep. Daphne Campbell of Miami joining that subcommittee’s GOP majority in supporting the plan. Campbell had a bitter falling-out with some Democratic colleagues last year over an abortion bill.

The GOP also touted the measures for being more compact and splitting fewer cities and counties than the current map. After a series of amendments, for example, one plan for the House map would reduce the number of split counties from 46 to 30 and the number of divided cities from 170 to 91.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich introduced Democratic alternatives to Senate Republicans’ plans for redrawing the political boundaries for her chamber and for Congress. Rich, D-Weston, declined to discuss the maps in great detail because she said the analysis on the maps was not complete.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.