The Florida Legislature adjourned its second special session of the summer on August 21st without agreement on a revised congressional map. In July, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps based on a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters and others. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who held a hearing after the session ended, took comments from defendants and plaintiffs regarding how best to proceed. Judge Lewis decided to seek the advice of the Florida Supreme Court, who has not responded yet.
Meanwhile, a group calling themselves the Conservative Coalition for Free Speech & Association, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Fair District amendment entirely. The Coalition, which is made up of several Republican operatives implicated in the earlier lawsuits, allege the Florida Supreme Court overreached in its decision requiring that new districts be drawn. Florida taxpayers have spent over $11 million on legal fees defending the Legislature’s actions. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and Florida House Democrats have called for the creation of an independent redistricting commission.
All of this drama has contributed to an active political summer; in stark contrast to previous summers. And, a third special session of the year is scheduled in October to coincide with legislative committee meetings. It will address the revision of the Florida Senate district maps. Legislative committee meetings in preparation for the 2016 Session begin on September 16th. Members will meet the weeks of September 16th, October 5th, October 19th, November 2nd, November 16th and December 30th.