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Florida House Releases Seven Congressional Maps

The GOP-controlled Florida House released seven draft Congressional redistricting maps today.

Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for the House, said state Representatives had requested that the official staff draw up a number of different maps. “It was to provide for options for discussion,” she told Roll Call.

To avoid battles among state House members with conflicting interests and allegiances, maps preferred by a number of state House Members were all released at once, according to a Republican source in Florida.

In a statement, state Rep. Will Weatherford (R), the chairman of the House redistricting committee, emphasized that all the public comments the committee had received were considered.

“These maps represent the collective input we have received from Floridians across the state and also reflect federal and state redistricting legal standards,” he said. “I look forward to receiving further input from the public and any members of the Legislature to ensure these maps best represent the interests of all Floridians.”

A state constitutional amendment, passed in 2010 and shorthanded as Fair Districts, prohibits the Legislature from drawing Congressional lines with the intent to favor or disfavor a party or incumbent. The law is likely to be the basis of litigation by Democrats. The GOP has worked to avoid the appearance of any kind of illegal intent.

Last week, the Senate released a draft Congressional map that keeps most of the GOP Members safe. Republicans have a 19-to-6 advantage in the Florida House delegation. None of the Democratic Members in the Sunshine State are likely to be imperiled in 2012. But depending on which map becomes law and on the political climate, Democrats could pick up two to four seats.

In-the-know Republicans expect the final map to differ significantly from the one the state Senate released eight days ago.

The House and Senate Congressional maps must be reconciled and need Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) signature before they become law. That’s likely to happen in January. Any new map is expected to be challenged in both state and federal courts.

New Florida Congressional maps will need a final sign-off from the Department of Justice, which is required to preclear any changes in certain voting lines under the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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