In what many Florida Democrats hope could be the only salvation from another decade plus of Republican control in Tallahassee, the organizers behind FairDistrictsFlorida.org announced this afternoon that their two ballot measures will be on the November 2010 ballot.
There will be two measures, Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 on the ballot, both dealing with trying to change the current Gerrymandered way that Legislative and Federal Districts are drawn up once every decade.
The measures intend to prohibit politicians from designing districts to favor themselves or their parties; Require them to make the districts compact and community based; and make it impossible for legislatiors to draw districts to diminish the ability of minority voters to elect representatives. But it would maintain the re-districting in the hands of the Republican led legislature.
Already members of the Legislature, both Republican and Democratic, have raised concerns and objections about the proposals.
South Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart has said:
"The initiative, I think, puts at risk the minority districts. ...this creates a set of standards that are conflicting. And it may take away the ability of the Florida Legislature to create districts that give minority communitues a chance to elect a minority representative. Looking at the standards proposed, I frankly don't know how any Legislature could comply."
Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown has also raised objections, saying:
"If it's in the Constitution and it's written a certain way, we could lose major minority representation," Brown said. "I am concerned. I do not want to regress back to before 1992. So I do not support this initiative."
The business establishment also opposes the proposals. Barney Bishop with Associated Industries of Florida said in a press release issued last month:
A proposal seeking to alter current law through a constitutional amendment is vague and unnecessarily duplicative of existing state and federal requirements. These initiatives are nothing more than solutions in search of a problem that are being promoted by groups like labor unions, trial lawyers and ACORN aiming to increase their political visibility.
Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) strongly opposes any proposed amendments that seek to place new redistricting and reapportionment guidelines in Floridas Constitution.
There are no problems with the current redistricting process that has stood the test of time, produced equitable district boundaries and requires judicial review and approval.
But there are many others thrilled to hear today's announcement. One of them is former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham, who has said,
"Florida's legislators are choosing their voters instead of voters choosing their representatives. There are presently no rules to stop this self protection plan. And when this happens, the voters don't have a real choice! These amendments will change that."