TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida House on Monday rejected amendments to proposed congressional district maps, all but guaranteeing it will pass the "base map" the chamber started considering last week.
The likely new configuration of the state's 27 congressional districts was made in response to the state Supreme Court invalidating the current map, saying it was drawn with partisan intent. But while the Senate has spent time considering changes, the House is now poised for a Tuesday floor vote on the map drawn by House and Senate staff.
Only one of the amendments shot down was actually voted on by the full House, failing, on a voice vote. It would have redrawn U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's district to include all of Sarasota County and the eastern part of Manatee County. The base map splits Sarasota
County in the middle along an east-west line.
The proposed change is identical to one by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, which is being considered in the Senate on Monday as well. Under Detert's proposal Sarasota County would be whole again and U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney would continue to represent much of southern Hillsborough County. Most of Manatee County would be joined with Sarasota in the same district -- except for parts of East Manatee, which would continue to be part of Rooney's district.
Sarasota County has been one of the biggest contention points under the base map because it would split the county's population into two districts, after being wholly in one for the last two decades. Redistricting staffers said Sarasota County's present 16th District was compact and contiguous, but they broke it up to make a neighboring congressional district more compact.
By splitting Sarasota in half and giving the southern portion to Rooney's 17th District, Rooney would no longer represent any of southern Hillsborough County. That portion of Hillsborough would move into the 16th District, represented now by Buchanan, R-Longboat Key.
"There's a great concern of a disparate treatment in legislation, in budgeting and in representation between south Sarasota County and north Sarasota County," said state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, who introduced the amendment. "It is not a partisan concern. It is simply a concern about fair and adequate representation."
The other amendment, by Rep. Mike Hill, R-Pensacola, would have reverted to an older congressional map already invalidated by the Supreme Court in 2012. Hill withdrew the amendment before a vote. It was ruled outside the parameters of the special session, and did not receive a floor vote, an echo its downfall in the House Select Committee on Redistricting last week.