Florida lawmakers to debate Gov. DeSantis’ congressional map during special session

Special session begins Tuesday

Special session begins this week.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are returning to the state’s Capitol this week for a special session that will be focused on congressional redistricting.

The legislature is taking on a once-a-decade mapping process, but last week, leadership with the state House and Senate said in a joint statement that Gov. Ron DeSantis would lead those efforts.

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On Wednesday, the governor released his proposed map. It shrinks District 5, which runs along the state’s northern border and is represented by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.

“It (the map) will, though, have north Florida drawn in a race-neutral manner. We are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin. That is wrong. That is not the way we have governed in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Miami last week.

DeSantis’ proposed map comes after he vetoed the map passed by the legislature in March, which prompted the governor to call for this special session.

News 6 political analyst Jim Clark said DeSantis’ map is Republican-favorable. If adopted, the GOP would pick up four congressional seats, including the new district that covers Polk and Osceola counties. The state gained this seat along the I-4 corridor due to new growth in the area over the last decade.

DeSantis said his map is constitutional.

“They’re going to follow every provision of the constitution and statutory law. That involves, of course, the Florida constitution and it involves certain provisions of federal law which they are going to abide by,” DeSantis said.

But State Senator Linda Stewart, a Democrat who represents District 13 in Orlando, believes DeSantis’ map won’t be upheld in the courts. She said it doesn’t follow redistricting guidelines or federal law.

“He’s going to send his lawyers down to explain how his map is legal but if he doesn’t take care of Tier 1. His map is not legal. You can say it is, but the courts will decide,” Stewart said. “The governor produced a map that was worse than he initially produced when we were in (the regular) session.”

The special session begins on Tuesday. Clark said while democrats will oppose DeSantis’ map, they don’t have the numbers to stop it.

About the Author:

Amanda Castro, a proud UCF alum, joined the News 6 team in November 2015 and was promoted to weekend morning anchor in April 2016. Go Knights!