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Special Florida session over redistricting starts Tuesday

Critics argue the governor's proposed congressional map suppresses the Black vote and favors Republicans.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida lawmakers are heading back to Tallahassee on Tuesday over the special session on redistricting.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the state Legislature's map of congressional districts. Instead, proposing his own.

“We have a responsibility to produce maps for our citizens that do not contain unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” DeSantis said in a statement at the time.

Critics argue the proposal suppresses the Black vote.

A major point of controversy stems in north Florida, where the governor's map would split District 2 and shrink District 5, a predominantly Black district held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.

"We are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin. That is wrong. That is not the way we’ve governed in the state of Florida," DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday.

In Tampa Bay, at least two districts could be redrawn under the governor's proposed map. It would expand District 12 and move some voters from District 13 in Pinellas County to District 14 in Hillsborough County. 

Sen. Darryl Rouson (D-FL) submitted his version of the map Friday. He said by phone that the good faith effort to elect and represent minority leaders fairly are at stake.

Rouson said it's important to maintain district lines for fair minority representation in areas like St. Petersburg or East Tampa. 

For instance, his version of the map would maintain much of Lawson's District 5 and wouldn't split voters in St. Petersburg to District 14. 

The Legislature appears poised to pass the governor's proposed map.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson, both Republicans, sent a memo to lawmakers Monday ahead of the special session stating legislative staff will not draw new maps to be considered by the chambers. 


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