TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With Democrats standing against it and Gov. Ron DeSantis once more making his opposition clear, the Florida House of Representatives approved a pair of maps that redraw the state’s congressional districts, but without enough of a majority to escape the governor’s veto pen.
The House passed an unprecedented two redistricting maps with a 67-47 vote Friday. Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the maps.
Then the Florida Senate, after a short debate, passed the new maps along party line -- 24-15.
“I know there is pressure,” said State Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, who chaired the Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee. “But for what it’s worth, with all my heart, I believe what we’re doing is right.”
At issue is whether the Congressional maps accurately follow constitutional requirements.
Currently, Florida’s Congressional map includes a U.S. House district, Congressional District 5, that stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and is considered a majority Black district. The primary House map (H 8017) creates a Congressional District 5 that exists only in Duval County.
Democrats and critics say the map dilutes minority representation.
The House also approved a backup map (H 8015) in case the primary House map is ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
That map leaves Congressional District 5 as is, a key criticism of DeSantis’, who says the district is not compact enough.
Both Florida House maps also make changes to two Orlando congressional districts — CD 10, currently occupied by Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, and CD 7, currently occupied by Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park.
The Florida Senate had its own version of a redistricting map which largely left the current Congressional district map alone and makes room for the new Congressional District 28 in the Four Corners area of Central Florida. This map had some Democratic support.
The Senate, however, discarded this map in favor of the ones passed in the Florida House.
Gov. DeSantis has made clear all along that he and his lawyers believe all of the maps are constitutionally problematic, particularly Congressional District 5, and has vowed to veto any map with those problematic districts.
As the House debated the maps, he tweeted Friday morning to reaffirm that veto threat:
I will veto the congressional reapportionment plan currently being debated by the House. DOA.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 4, 2022
In case that wasn’t clear enough, DeSantis said he wasn’t bluffing when he was asked about the tweet during a news conference in Jacksonville.
“What makes you think, after seeing me for however many years, what makes you think when I say I’m going to do something that I’m not going to follow through?” DeSantis said. “I mean, I don’t say, I mean, it’s just the reality. I don’t make declarations lightly.”
Democrats read DeSantis’ tweet on the floor of the Florida House during the debate, implying that they may have been more willing to vote for an alternative version of the map — one that could have avoided DeSantis’ veto.
“The Florida House of Representatives just got played,” said State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando. “We had maps that looked a lot better than what we’re seeing today. And we scrapped all of that to satisfy the whims of our governor.”