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Legislature Adjourns without Congressional Map

August 21st, 2015 by Mike Vasilinda

State lawmakers gave themselves 12 days to come up with a map of new congressional districts. Time ran out a noon with no map, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, one side refusing to keep working until next week.

The meltdown began Friday morning when Senate negotiators walked out of a meeting with their House counterparts. Rep. Jose Oliva (R-Miami), House Redistricting Chairman wasn’t happy. “If you invite me over to your office to talk about something, and we’re in the middle of that discussion, you don’t get up and leave.”

The whole meltdown comes down to one thing: The House believes the Senate is drawing maps for the Tampa area because of political reasons.

Sen. Tom Lee was the author of a plan to shrink four Tampa area congressional districts down to two in the county. Without warning, the House began questioning whether the map was being drawn to favor Lee or others. Rep. Jose Oliva led the charge.

“Members, we don’t come here to have our wishes done. We come here to represent people. We come here to abide by the law” said Oliva.

The House then voted twice to refuse the Senate Map, which got only three yes votes.

It also voted not to extend the session and keep working. Senate President Andy Gardiner called the refusal a mistake.

“I think unless we can come to some agreement in the next few days, we’re going to sit back and watch the Supreme Court draw the Congressional districts” said Gardiner.

This won’t be the first time a court has drawn districts. In the late 1960‘s, lawmakers refused to change maps that saw 17 percent of the population elect a majority of the legislature, the Federal courts ordered a University of Florida political scientists to redraw all of the districts.

House Minority leader Mark Pafford says the meltdown is more proof that lawmakers are incapable of being fair.

“The Legislature, a political body, is not capable of producing a map that doesn’t have politics that are built into it” says Pafford.

A court hearing on the maps was already scheduled for next week.

The Senate voted twice to keep trying to reach a deal on a map until early next week. The House voted to go home without a map.

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