Florida lawmakers to take up DeSantis' congressional map, not their own
Last month, the Florida legislature sent a congressional map to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his approval. He vetoed it. And now legislative leaders say they’re planning to consider a map from his office for approval next week.
In late March, DeSantis officially called for a special lawmaking session to take place on April 19 - 22 for the purpose of passing a new congressional map. The governor rejected the legislature's two-map package. And he’s since remained adamant that he won’t support a map that keeps an African American minority district in North Florida.
Lawmakers chose not to take up the governor’s map during the regular legislative session. Instead they produced a map meant to gain his support, while still passing legal muster. It would’ve eliminated African American Rep. Al Lawson’s Congressional District 5, replacing it with a minority access district in Duval County. Still, DeSantis refused to sign it.
Unlike the state legislative maps, the state's congressional map doesn't need the approval of the state Supreme Court to take effect; it only needs the governor's signature to become law. Likewise, the state’s House and Senate maps don’t need the governor’s approval, only the court’s.
On Monday, state Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls sent a letter to lawmakers explaining that legislative staff won’t draw a new congressional map for the redistricting committees to consider, as they had previously.
Instead, the governor's office will have “opportunities to present” a plan to redistricting committee members.
Simpson and Sprowls write the goal of the upcoming session “is to pass a new congressional map that will both earn the Governor’s signature and withstand legal scrutiny, if challenged.”
Legal challenges have already been filed. Voters and voting rights groups are suing over the current congressional map remaining in effect. Even though lawmakers are reconvening to pass a map, they argue that the governor's plan to eliminate two African American opportunity districts is unconstitutional and the judiciary should select a map that meets state and federal requirements ahead of the November elections.