The latest on #Mapageddon…
Senator Bill Gilvano and Rep. Richard Corcoran are the chairs of the Select Committee on Redistricting. Jason Poreda is the committee staff director.
The schedule of the special session is taking shape, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida:
Legislative leaders Monday laid out the fullest blueprint yet for a special session aimed at crafting new congressional districts, even as they continued a push for a Leon County judge to limit the impact of his ruling on this year’s elections. House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz announced that the Legislature would return to Tallahassee and begin the session at noon Thursday, little more than a week before an Aug. 15 deadline to submit a redrawn map to Circuit Judge Terry Lewis. Specially formed House and Senate committees will meet later Thursday and on Friday to try to come up with a plan that would answer Lewis’ initial ruling, issued last month.
Gaetz was particularly clear about the limited scope of the session:
“Because the court held intact 25 of the state’s 27 congressional districts as the Legislature drew them, I believe we can and should meet the court’s requirements with minimal impact on the rest of the state.”
Sen. John Thrasher told a radio station in Jacksonville that Republican leaders want the changes to take effect in the 2016 elections because it is logistically impossible to do it this year. He also said legislators will convene in session Thursday, correct the map “pretty easily” and be prepared to vote on a final plan by Monday.
Senator Joe Negron is worried about the impact delaying the elections would have on absentee voters:
” … Around the state, the overseas votes, thousands of overseas votes have been cast, so that’s one of my main goals is to try to accomplish what needs to be done without interfering with any existing elections that are ongoing.”
Fair Districts coalition lawyer Thomas Zehnder is already disappointed:
“Judge Lewis provided strong guidance on the constitutional issues that must be resolved. We can only hope our elected leaders take those concerns seriously and do what is necessary to provide for constitutionally valid elections in 2014.”
Another one of the plaintiffs in the case, the League of Women Voters, is taking a wait-and-see approach to the Legislature’s plans:
“It remains to be seen whether they will decide to produce a map that meets the constitutional requirements,” said LWV president Deidre Macnab.
Deputy House Counsel Steve Godwin reminded members of the prohibition against raising money while the Legislature is in session:
“With the approach of Special Session, Members are reminded that House Rules prohibit all campaign fundraising activity during any regular, extended, or special legislative session. Specifically, House Rule 15.3(b) provides: A member may neither solicit nor accept any campaign contribution during the sixty-day regular legislative session or any extended or special session on the member’s own behalf, on behalf of a political party, on behalf of any organization with respect to which the member’s solicitation is regulated under s. 106.0701, Florida Statutes, [i.e., an organization that is exempt from taxation under s. 527 or s. 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code], or on behalf of a candidate for the House of Representatives; however, a member may contribute to the member’s own campaign.”
“Accordingly, all member campaign fundraising activity, with the exception of member contributions to a member’s own campaign, must cease during Special Session. No campaign fundraising events may be held. Any currently scheduled campaign fundraising events must be cancelled and rescheduled for after Special Session. Further, no direct or indirect campaign contributions may be accepted, received or deposited during the period of Special Session.”
Among the victims of the fundraising ban: Fundraisers for Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (invite here), an August 12 event for Rep. James Grant, and an August 14 dinner for Senate Democrats.
Speaking of money, blogger extraordinaire Brian Crowley is looking out for the taxpayers who have to foot the $40,000-a-day bill for this special session. The special session is creating conflict among national Democrats. Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO reports that black Democrats in Congress are sharply criticizing their party’s leadership for supporting efforts to overturn the GOP-drawn congressional map and cut into Republicans’ House majority:
Last week, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge sent a sharply-worded letter to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, complaining about the party’s support for a lawsuit that aims to throw out Florida’s congressional map — changes that could dismantle the gerrymandered seat of CBC member Corrine Brown. “On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, I write to express our ongoing concern with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s support of lawsuits challenging the validity of minority Congressional districts,” Fudge wrote. “Per our prior discussion, we are extremely disturbed by the DCCC’s efforts to dismantle CBC districts in states that have historically proven to be difficult to elect minority members. Considering the history of discrimination through efforts such as gerrymandering, the recent actions reflect the discrimination of days past.”
“There are instances where these types of lawsuits may be warranted,” Fudge wrote to Israel. “However, the recent Florida lawsuit aimed at dismantling the 5th Congressional District is not one. The 5th District was approved by the U.S. Supreme Court and has been virtually unchanged for the last 20 years. It was deemed constitutional then, and it is constitutional now.”
Check out this cool GIF of “100 years of Florida congressional districts” here.
Meanwhile, Tallahassee watering hole, Madison Social, is celebrating the special session with the introduction of the “Jerry-mander” cocktail.