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Calls for Independent Redistricting Commission Grow

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As the House and Senate begin the process of defending their Congressional maps before the court, calls are growing across Florida for the establishment of an independent redistricting commission. With the Senate openly admitting to illegal gerrymandering and the House abdicating its redistricting responsibility to the court, the need for an independent commission has never been greater.

“After three failed attempts in three years, the Florida Legislature has proven once and for all that it’s not capable of honoring the wishes of voters who overwhelmingly passed the Fair District Amendments,” said Florida House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford. “Passing the buck to the courts is not a long-term solution to this constitutional crisis. Bold action is required to break through the gridlock, dysfunction, and illegal partisan scheming. Now is the time for the establishment of an independent redistricting commission.”  

“It is beyond dispute that the system we have in place is broken,” added Representative Evan Jenne. “The last few years have made it clear that asking the legislature to follow the law and draw legal Congressional and Senate districts is simply too tall of an order for Republican leadership. That’s why I filed a bill to take this process out of the legislature’s hands and establish as independent of a redistricting commission as possible. It’s time Republicans take responsibility for their illegal actions and join us in reforming this broken system. Floridians deserve at least that much.”  

Read some of the growing calls for an independent redistricting commission here: 

Tampa Bay Times Editorial: Florida needs redistricting commission like court endorsed. Florida voters approved new rules for redrawing congressional and legislative districts nearly five years ago, but the changes did not go far enough and the results are less than satisfying. Now that the court has endorsed the use of independent commissions, Florida should establish one so that the districts can be more fairly drawn… The 2010 Fair Districts amendments were a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. For the best shot at fairly drawn congressional and legislative districts, there will have to be another voter-initiated constitutional amendment that hands the job to an independent redistricting commission. [6/29/15]

Tampa Bay Times: Florida House Democrats call for independent redistricting commission. A day after legislators from both parties expressed disdain for the redistricting process, Florida Democrats redoubled their call to shift the map-drawing from the Legislature to an independent commission…One bill by Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, (HB 21) calls for a nine-member commission composed of people who are not in elected office and have no political ties. The Senate president, House speaker, Senate minority leader and House minority leader each would have one appointment and the governor would have five. The governor's appointees would have to include a Republican, a Democrat and three third-party or no-party-affiliated voters. [8/19/15]

Tampa Tribune Editorial: Legislative dysfunction shows need for independent redistricting commission. The dishonesty and utter dysfunction exhibited by the Florida Legislature in trying to redraw boundaries for the state’s 27 congressional districts is proof enough that the task shouldn’t be left to a group of sitting lawmakers who have too much at stake in the outcome. It’s time the once-in-a-decade task be handed over to an independent body… If leadership in the House and Senate won’t back measures to create a commission, the supporters of such a move should push for a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether they think the current system is working. [8/22/15]

Tampa Bay Times: Senator Nelson calls for independent redistricting commission for Florida. “Seems to me we need an independent commission for future reapportionment so that you stop this self-serving process of drawing districts for your own self interest,” said Nelson… “Seems to me that common sense says put it in the hands of as independent of a commission as you can make it.” [8/31/15] 

Palm Beach Post Editorial: Supreme Court should tell lawmakers time’s up on map-making. Sorry, fellas. You had a shot at acting like leaders already in a 12-day special session that cost the taxpayers $650,000. You failed spectacularly, and you ended up barely speaking with each other. Florida voters have suffered through enough of these political shenanigans and legislative dysfunction… As we’ve said before, expecting apolitical decisions from political creatures is a fool’s errand. In years to come, we should have an independent, non-partisan commission that takes this job out of lawmakers’ hands. [8/31/15]  

Orlando Sentinel Editorial: Give redistricting job to independent commission. When Florida voters ratified the Fair Districts amendments to the state constitution in 2010, they gave clear instructions to their representatives in Tallahassee: Stop drawing districts for seats in Congress and the Legislature that are rigged in favor of a politician or party. Yet legislators have repeatedly failed to meet this constitutional obligation. It's time to put the work in more capable hands… Florida   would be better off with a bipartisan, independent commission in control of redistricting… The effort would be fiercely opposed by legislative leaders, who don't want to give up their power to draw districts. But, sadly, they haven't earned the right to keep the job. [9/6/15] 

Miami Herald Editorial: Epic fail in Tallahassee. So far, though, the childish tantrums that ended both this session and the regular session of the Legislature — featuring an abrupt walkout by the House after the failure to agree on Medicaid — show they can’t be trusted to get the job done... Republicans own this failure...  the task of congressional and legislative redistricting should be entrusted to an independent commission that can follow the law. There are already two proposed bills before the Legislature to create such a panel. It would prepare a map adhering to the Fair Districts guidelines and allow the Legislature to ratify a final version. [8/24/15]