One week before the start of a special legislative session to redraw the boundaries of Florida congressional districts, the League of Women Voters is questioning the level of transparency.
League President Pamela Goodman, joined by Common Cause, sent a letter to legislative leaders Monday in which she hinted at possible legal action if the new map isn’t developed in public view. The league is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to the Florida Supreme Court’s rejection of the Congressional map as unconstitutionally in violation of state anti-gerrymandering provisions.
Goodman questioned the July 20 memo from Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli in which both men said a new “base map” would be “drafted solely by staff in collaboration with counsel, without our participation or the participation of any other member, and will be provided simultaneously to all members and the public prior to the convening of the special session.”
Challenging that move, Goodman writes: “We believe that the ‘base map’ should be discussed and drawn in public, as that map will play a central role in the legislative process of drawing the Congressional redistricting plan. We hope and expect that the Legislature will provide a mechanism for the public to view the drawing of the ‘base map’ and any associated discussions,” including live streaming on the web.
Goodman noted that the Florida Supreme Court, in its order, directed the Legislature to “conduct all meetings in which makes decisions on the new map in public and to record any non-public meetings for preservation.” She also urged the Legislature to resist any use of attorney-client privilege in an attempt to shield discussions from disclosure.
The second special session of 2015 is scheduled to run from Aug. 10 to Aug. 21. A third special session has been called for Oct. 19 to redraw state Senate districts in advance of next year’s elections.
Original article here.