Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Proposed maps offer possibility of big changes, but Florida redistricting process far from over

That Florida lawmakers remain very early in redistricting process was belied by the fact that the Florida House on Tuesday released seven possible ways to redraw boundaries for Congressional districts and five possible remaps for their own House districts. There's no easier way to avoid making a decision than to leave all options --- whether likely choices or not -- open.

But a cursory look at the House's maps does reveal some common themes, at least in how they might affect Manatee County and our current lawmakers.

For the Florida House districts, each of the five maps would place incumbent state Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, in a renumbered District 73 generally comprised  of East Manatee, Parrish and Lakewood Ranch, that would be not dissimilar from the district he now represents.

Greater changes would be in store for Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton. The proposed maps would place him in a renumbered District 71 that covers most of Bradenton and west Manatee County but also extend south into Sarasota County -- the maps vary on how far south that would be.

All the proposed maps would keep several neighborhoods in Palmetto and Bradenton in a renumbered District 70 that would extend south from Pinellas County, as they are now.

As for the proposed Congressional remaps, all would place incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, in a renumbered 16th Congressional District that would remain primarily a Manatee-Sarasota district with one notable change: All of Manatee County, including neighborhoods in Palmetto and Bradenton now included in a Tampa-based district, would be in one district, meeting one of the goals of new constitutional requirements that districts be as geographically compact as possible.

That differs from the proposed remap offered last week by the Florida Senate, which kept Manatee divided into two districts -- suggesting that this and just about everything else related to redistricting is up for negotiation and, probably, litigation.

So who can blame the House, with all its possible maps, for not making a decision.

You can review all the maps and Census data used to draw them, here.

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