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Lawmakers to start drawing new district maps

By Regan McCarthy

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-987059.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – After 26 public meetings on Florida's redistricting process, lawmakers are getting down to business. Legislative committees and subcommittees are beginning official meetings. And Regan McCarthy reports House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford says he wants House lawmakers to submit all map ideas by the middle of next month.

Weatherford says the next step is for redistricting committees to begin digesting the information presented to them by the more than 2-thousand people who spoke during the state's public hearings. He says most of that work will be done in subcommittees, but he's asking those committees to provide choices.

"I would ask that you provide at least three complete options for each type of map. Now, what that means is that you would send this committee three congressional maps, and at least three options for a state House map."

Weatherford set a November 14 deadline for House members to turn in their own maps. He's asking members of the public to turn in any new map ideas by November 1st. He says public input is important, despite critics saying it's all just for show. Committee members are already considering some of the most often mentioned concerns brought forward during the redistricting hearings across the state. Jeff Tackas who presented issues brought forth during the hearings says the discussion of whether to draw districts horizontally or vertically was a big one.

"The folks who would argue on behalf of horizontal districts talked about similar communities communities that had a lot in common with each other whether it's there economy, tourism in the example of horizontal districts and agriculture to the north."

Tackas says those on the other side of the issue worried about the possibility of their counties being cut by district lines. All three committees, the House redistricting committee, Senate redistricting committee and congressional redistricting committee are meeting this week.