Lawmakers Seek to Shield Redistricting Testimony

In 2010, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring state lawmakers to fairly draw new legislative districts, but Friday the Florida Democratic Party filed suit, saying GOP drawn maps are anything but fair. Lawmakers are now trying to block the court from asking them what they did and why.

62 of every 100 voters in the 2010 GOP landslide told state lawmakers to be fair when drawing legislative maps. But discovering what lawmakers intended may soon be more difficult.

Sparks flew at a legislative committee where GOP lawmakers approved legislation attempting to block the courts from asking lawmakers, or their staff members, why maps were drawn a particular way. Rep. Richard Steinberg, a Miami Democrat spoke out. “The people who had direct input in drawing those maps, what was their intent when they drew the maps the way they drew them. The voters have told us that’s relevant.”

Sponsor Larry Metz of Lake County says there is plenty of public testimony about the maps. “You’re not going to be able to use the power of another coequal branch of government, in this case the judiciary, to compel a member to answer such questions.”

Florida Democrats have filed suit, challenging the maps. They say the immunity legislation is just more proof the maps were drawn to favor Republicans. Scott Arceneaux is the Ececutive Director of the Fl. Democratic Party. “It’s frankly the most brazen grab for legislative power that we’ve seen in years.”

Even if the immunity bill becomes law, there’s no guarantee the court won’t say the constitution gives them a right to look at legislative intent.

The Florida Supreme Court will hear the case February 29th. Whether they can ask lawmakers why something was or wasn’t done, may still be up in the air.

Florida Supreme Court Justices can approve the maps or send them back to lawmakers with guidelines for changes.


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