Florida leaders promise a fair redistribution when the census data comes in
The US census published the most complete data can still be used for redistribution on Thursday. The information will fuel activity in the Florida Legislature as Members redraw the boundaries for State House and Senate counties and 28 Florida congressional counties.
That means it is redistribution season in Florida. Democrats fear the process will result in cards favorable to the GOP, but Republican leaders swear it won’t.
Lawmakers warned that the data released Thursday is in legacy formats, meaning it is raw and requires extensive analysis before officials can even start drawing maps.
“This data will be raw and unformatted. The official census data will be released next month in September, ”said Sen. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican and chairman of the Senate Reallocation Committee. “However, we can take the raw, unformatted data and look at the formatting process for ourselves.”
House Speaker Chris Sprowls Stresses that while COVID-19 has delayed the publication of data in unprecedented ways, lawmakers still have time to go through a thorough and legal process.
“While the data delay is unique to the redistribution process this decade, it must be stressed that Florida’s constitutional requirement is to approve the redistribution of cards during the regular 2022 session,” he wrote in a memo to lawmakers.
“Florida is still within the required timeframe to complete the reallocation process, including committee stops, opportunities for public expression and time in the House of Representatives.”
An early analysis of the data shows that most of the growth across the country is taking place in the big cities.
Steve shell, a prominent Democratic analyst, picked up on this news, note The 10 most populous counties in Florida make up 60.7% of the Florida population. That’s a 61.1% decrease in the last census.
Five counties have more than 1 million inhabitants. Miami-Dade continues to lead the field with more than 2.7 million residents, followed by Broward with 1.94 million, Palm Beach with 1.49 million, Hillsborough with 1.46 million and Orange with 1.43 million. Duval now has a larger population than Pinellas, with nearly 996,000 people versus 959,000 of Pinellas. Next up are Lee at around 761,000, Polk at 725,000, and Brevard at nearly 607,000.
Shell said seven counties in the Interstate 4 corridor have gained residents, making central Florida the population gainer.
Many of these growing counties showed a blue trend in the last election. Even so, The Villages in Florida is considered the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country. Primarily located in Sumter County and encompassing portions of Lake and Marion, the community has long been a conservative haven.
While there has been widespread speculation as to where Floridas an additional convention district Rodrigues said it was too early to speculate.
“People are asking where this seat will be,” said Rodrigues. “The prerequisite is that only one new seat is drawn. We start with a blank board. From my point of view it is not a new seat. There are 28 new seats. “
The new lines will also have a huge impact on the Florida Legislature, whose members will draw lines for the 2022 election with every seat in the House and Senate appearing on the ballot.
While this is sure to spark a scramble for influence in the Capitol, Rodrigues said the redistribution committees will be bound by the 2010 election amendment to the Fair Districts. This means, among other things, that the incumbent will not be protected by the process, he said.
Rodrigues said his number one goal in redistributing is to make sure the cards stand up to the court’s challenges. At a recent Legislative Conference held in Salt Lake City, Rodrigues learned that officials across the country created more than 1,700 new political jurisdiction maps – and 2,400 legal challenges were filed – following the 2010 census. A legal challenge seems a matter of course in his eyes.
But it is not a court victory. The last redistribution in Florida in the middle of the decade dropped cards for seats in Congress and the Senate. Rodrigues wants to avoid that. He admits the process that favored Republicans 10 years ago. While the GOP still controls both houses of the legislature, he said the process will not favor his party over the Democrats.
Senate President Wilton Simpson in a memo he said he did not want outside influences to spoil the process.
“Moving on, senators should be careful to isolate themselves from interests that may intentionally or unintentionally seek to inappropriately influence the redistribution process,” he wrote.
Still, national media reports have speculated that the Florida realignment will give the legislature alone the ability to eliminate a five-seat deficit in the US House of Representatives and give Republicans control of the lower chamber of Congress.