by PAT RAIA
Staff from both Houses of the Florida Legislature are working together to create a website that will provide the public with information about US Census Bureau redistricting data. Lawmakers received the raw data last week. The data will be used by legislators as they redraw boundaries for state House and Senate districts as well as for 28 congressional districts in Florida.
The site will “ultimately provide the public with information about opportunities for appropriate engagement (with lawmakers) and with access to the data and mapping application,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) in an Aug. 12 memo to members of the state Senate.
In Florida, both congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn by the state legislature. Congressional lines are adopted as regular legislation and are subject to gubernatorial veto. State legislative lines are passed via joint resolution and are not subject to gubernatorial veto. State legislative district maps are automatically submitted to the Florida Supreme Court for approval.
According to Florida law, no apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent, and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice.
Simpson also advised Senate members to avoid contact with special interests bent on influencing the redraw.
“As we move forward, Senators should take care to insulate themselves from interests that may intentionally or unintentionally attempt to inappropriately influence the redistricting process,” Simpson wrote in the memo.
The website containing maps and other redistricting information will be launched in coming weeks, Simpson’s memo said.