Florida legislators were notified Monday that a special session will be held Aug. 10 to 21 to approve a new congressional district map .
In a memo to members of the state Legislature, state Senate President Andy Gardiner and state Speaker Steve Crisafulli said a map will be drawn and made public before the legislature convenes for the two-week session, where state legislators will have the ability to debate and amend it.
"This map proposal will be drafted solely by staff in collaboration with counsel, without our participation or the participation of any other member, and will be provided simultaneously to all members and the public prior to the convening of the Special Session," Gardiner and Crisafulli said in a memo accompanying their special session proclamation. "We believe that presenting a base map that follows the Supreme Court order to you and the public will make it easier to discuss all legislative actions in an open and transparent manner."
While redistricting is an inherently political process, the memo to state legislators instructed staff of the redistricting and reapportionment committees "to avoid any assessment of the political implications of any map." It also ordered the staffers and legal counsel involved in drafting the new map to have no interaction with anyone who could be impacted by a new map before the special session.
"Staff will be instructed to have no interactions with any member of Congress, any Congressional staffer or aide, any political consultant, or any state or national political party personnel at any time before or during the Special Session," the memo states.
Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ordered eight of the state's 27 districts to be redrawn , and gave a 100-day deadline for new lines. The court invalidated the map, ruling that the redistricting process after the 2010 census did not follow the state's Fair Districts Amendment to the state constitution.
Districts requiring a redraw are the 5th, 13th, 14th, 21st, 22nd, 25th, 26th and 27th. Seats expected to change the most in that redraw include the 5th and 13th districts, which will in turn affect neighboring districts.
Anticipating his Tampa-based 13th District will become too Democratic to hold, Republican Rep. David Jolly announced Monday he will run for the state's open Senate seat instead of seek re-election.
Soon after Jolly's announcement, former Gov. Charlie Crist announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for the 13th District if his home in St. Petersburg is drawn into it, as expected. Crist's entrance into the race in a more Democratic-friendly district gives Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity.
In northern Florida, a redraw of the state's 5th District is likely to have implications for Democratic Reps. Corrine Brown, who represents it, and Gwen Graham, who was one of only two Democrats to defeat a Republican incumbent last year.
Brown's 5th District, which currently runs north-south in a snakelike pattern from Jacksonville to Orlando, will likely run from east to west along the northern border of the state. The new district is expected to draw in a chunk of minority voters from Tallahassee, which is currently located in Graham's 2nd District.
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