TALLAHASSEE,Fla — Florida legislators announced Monday they will convene a 12-day special session starting Aug. 10 to comply with a court order to revise the state’s congressional districts and will take some extraordinary measures to make sure staffers draw an initial base map without consulting anyone but lawyers.
The unusual process is a response to the unprecedented situation in which legislators find themselves after the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 to invalidate the state’s congressional map because it was “tainted with unconstitutional intent to favor the Republicans and incumbents.”
Now, after spending $8.1 million defending their flawed map in court, the burden of proof shifts to lawmakers to prove that they are following the law. To do that, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner have ordered lawmakers to compile all documents and communications related to drawing the new congressional districts, forward them daily to a specially-created email account, and prohibited those who are drafting the new map from talking about it.
For example, the House and Senate redistricting staff is ordered to have “no interactions with any member of the Legislature, a member’s staff or aide, political consultants or others concerning their work on the base map prior to its public release,” the officers wrote in a three-page memo to legislators Monday.
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