After a two week special session of the Florida legislature called specifically to redraw the Florida Congressional district maps under a Florida Supreme court ruling, the legislature ended the special session without coming to an agreement. The differences between the House version and the Senate version of the district maps were supposedly minor, but the House refused a proposal from the Senate for a formal conference committee today to try and iron out the differences.The main difference seems to be the way the House and the Senate wanted to treat Hillsborough County and Orange County. The Senate preferred to push district 10 into Lake County, leaving Orange County split between 4 congressional Districts without any single district complete in Orange County; Hillsborough County would still have the entire CD 14 completely within the County. But both chambers seemed to be unwilling to split any difference. Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, stated that courts had thrown out the previous maps in part because different parts of the state were treated differently.
The legislature actually has until Tuesday 8/25 to pass the new district maps, but the Senate’s proposal to extend the session to that date fell on deaf ears in the House. Neither side was willing to compromise, so like an episode of the gang who couldn’t shoot straight, once again the State legislature failed to carry out its constitutional duties. Earlier this year, in a major dispute over the expansion of Medicaid, the House called a sine die days ahead of the scheduled end of the 2015 session, without passing a budget. Governor Rick Scott had to call the legislature back to Tallahassee for a special session so the work could be completed.
So now, unless much cooler heads prevail, and a District map is agreed upon before Tuesday, The State Supreme court will likely draw up the new map themselves. Sen. President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, expressed dismay over the likelihood the state’s congressional districts would be left in the hands of the Supreme Court. “Unless we can come to some agreement in the next few days, we’re going to sit back and watch the Supreme Court draw the congressional districts,” he explained. “I think everybody, if they believe in the legislative process, [that] should make them nervous.”
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How this will impact potential candidates deciding whether to run for Congress in the redrawn districts remains to be seen, especially in CD 10. As of this morning, another prominent democrat, Former State Senator Gary Siplin was said to be seriously considering a run for the seat currently held by Rep. Dan Webster (R). Democrats Val Demmings and State Senator Geraldine Thompson have already declared their intentions to run for the seat.