TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida House and Senate are at odds over what should happen next in the battle over the state's 27 congressional districts.
The Republican-controlled Legislature ended a special session last week without coming up with a new map.
The state Supreme Court gave lawmakers 100 days to draw a map after finding the current districts violated voter-approved standards. The House and Senate sharply differed on changes in the central Florida and Tampa Bay region.
In the ideological divide that led to stalemate over the congressional redistricting map, Republican leaders in the House have argued the Senate map lacks "consistency."
The proposed Senate plan no longer divides Hillsborough and Sarasota counties, but it creates a new division by shifting the Orlando-based district, now held
by Rep. Dan Webster, into Lake County.
Republicans in the Senate have staunchly defended the Senate's position. State Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, Senate Reapportionment Committee chairman, argues it is the preferred approach even though his home county remains more whole in the House map than the Senate's.
The House argues by failing to apply the same standards across the map, the Senate risks having the court reject its map. The Senate counters that the House's base map, as drawn by staff, fails to include the legislative input essential to the redistricting process.
Now, both want the court to decide which map is better.
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis held a hearing Tuesday to discuss what should happen next. Lewis was supposed to review an approved map on behalf of the high court.
The Florida House on Monday asked the Supreme Court to let them submit to Lewis the map approved by the full House.
Senate President Andy Gardiner said Senate attorneys will ask the judge to give the Legislature more time to draw up a new map.
If the Senate wins, the court confirms that notion a map can reflect the regional input of local legislators inconsistently without violating the redistricting standards as interpreted by the court. That's important as lawmakers prepare to redraw the Senate map in October. (Remember, it was the Senate that admitted to violating the Fair Districts provisions and called for the session to revise the Senate map. The House remained silent.)
If the House wins, the call for consistency will prevail.
"We are not here to set precedent," said state Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, the House Reapportionment Committee chairman. "After the Senate admitted violating the law, we now are here to comply with the law. So therefore no rational will be acceptable in one part of the map but not in another. It has to be consistently applied."
The Senate has understandably more at stake than the House during that exercise. Notes Oliva: "I won't be here five or six years from now. I'm never running for Senate under any circumstances."
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report