Frozen out? House Democrats won’t file amendments, expect little input on redistricting maps

“The maps are wildly unconstitutional,” says Evan Jenne.

House Democrats don’t anticipate offering amendments to a House redistricting map heading to the chamber floor Tuesday.

“We all know this is something headed toward the judiciary,” said House Democratic Leader Evan Jenne. “We’re not going to muddy those waters.”

Unlike in the Senate, which passed new Senate and congressional maps with largely bipartisan support, a map (H 8013) for Florida’s 120 House districts has moved through committee with mostly party-line votes. The House map set for consideration Tuesday afternoon has seen only one Democratic vote in its favor so far.

Jenne said that’s the result on a non-transparent process, and one he doesn’t anticipate changing this Session. Issues raised by Democrats about the failure to consider language minorities could create cartography at risk of failing a judicial review.

“Our friends on the other side of the aisle made a decision not to involve us at a bare minimum,” he said.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat, has been among committee members to regularly raise concerns, especially when it came to Haitian Creole speakers in South Florida. She feels especially frustrated on that front, she said, because 10 years ago, the House considered data, also available this year, to recognize a language minority in its map.

“What’s confusing to me is that last redistricting cycle, the House did rely on American Community Survey data,” she said. “The constitution is clear what we have to use, but beyond that we can use anything we want as long as it’s not unconstitutional.”

Republican leadership on the committee has said ACS data lacks the specificity of U.S. Census data, which identifies race but not other ethnic notations like native language. Rep. Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican chairing the House Redistricting Committee, argued last week that prevents any political performative analysis.

Of note, evolving draft maps have actually put dense Creole populations in two South Florida districts. But staff say such data has not shaped maps.

The failure to properly handle minority access districts, Jenne predicted, could doom maps and bring the House back to square one.

“The maps are wildly unconstitutional,” he said.

Furthermore, data hasn’t been available to Democrats to draft their own alternative maps, and so they have not.

The House also expects to publish a fresh draft of congressional district lines, which will be considered by a subcommittee on Friday.

“I wish I could tell you communication has been great and we know exactly what’s coming,” Jenne said. “But it has not been a collaborative approach to policy or mapmaking. We find out when everybody else finds out.”

Based on drafts published earlier this Session, a congressional map will likely come out on Wednesday, two days before a scheduled subcommittee. That’s the same day the House expects to vote a state House map off the floor.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • politics

    February 1, 2022 at 10:53 am

    Personally one brand buying all of the land is unconstitutional it leaves you in the ground. who is black rock?

Comments are closed.


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