Monday, August 4, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 8.4.14: Legislators to revise district map they didn't get right the first time?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 8:19 AM

click to enlarge House Speaker Will Weatherford & Senate President Don Gaetz
  • House Speaker Will Weatherford & Senate President Don Gaetz

Okay, let me make sure I've got this right: The GOP-led Florida Legislature, which was recently found by Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis to have failed its constitutional duties to draw up fair and contiguous legislative and congressional districts as per Amendments 4 and 5, is now going back into session later this week to essentially have a do-over? 

I think that's what's happening, but there's certainly a lot of ambiguity going forward. 

On Friday Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who three weeks ago ruled that the Legislature had failed to accurately redraw the most recent congressional districts of Jacksonville area Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown and Winter Garden Republican Daniel Webster, ordered the Legislature to revise those two districts and get back to him by August 15. 

The Legislature had not appealed Lewis' original ruling, figuring that it was too late to do any redrawing, what with the August 26 primary election just around the corner. But the League of Women Voters, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, have contended that would mean state voters would be voting for representatives in districts that had already been ruled unconstitutionally drawn up, and that there is time to fix them. And Judge Lewis apparently agrees. 

But a huge question is whether his ruling will affect the August 26 primary and/or the November election.

While Lewis' ruling that GOP lawmakers in control of the redistricting process in 2012  "made a mockery" of it," it appears that those same lawmakers will get a second bite of the apple. And while they'll no doubt be less egregious in doing so, the Fair District Amendments are inherently flawed (in this reporter's opinion) because they allow legislators to draw the lines. That's not the way it's done in several other states, such as California and Arizona, who realized that lawmakers can't be trusted to do so in a nonpartisan way. Those states use independent commissions. Yet the idea of doing that here apparently never got off the ground, and Democrats and good government types who cheered the Fair District Amendments were naive if they thought the amendments as written would ease the natural gerrymandering that Democrats and Republicans always favor when they get the chance. But there's lots more to follow with this story in the coming weeks.

In other news…

Marco Rubio is in Iowa and was on Fox News Sunday yesterday, where anchor Chris Wallace asked why he's run the other way on immigration after being a major part of a comprehensive bill on the issue getting passed in the Senate last year...

PSTA Chairman Brad Miller returned hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Department of Homeland Security last week, after the agency (after speaking with David Jolly) questioned PSTA's use of funds earmarked for ads promoting security. Those feel-good ads carried a mention of Greenlight Pinellas at the end of them, causing critics to say that DHS money was being spent on promoting the transit tax. PSTA officials disagree. You decide. 

And on Friday CL attended a rally for Israel held in downtown Tampa as their relentless siege of Gaza continues..

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