President castigates ‘political rhetoric’ on FL House panel’s ‘workshop cards’

Florida’s efforts to redistribute the legislature have intensified, at least at State House.

Without naming names, Florida Representative Tyler Sirois, chairman of the House subcommittee on Congressional Redistribution, complained Thursday about “the political rhetoric that has been caustically launched in the media” since staff of the subcommittee released its first two draft maps on Monday.

“As you might have guessed, once our maps were released, a self-proclaimed, partisan political class made the headlines for giving their comment as early as possible, without even reserving the opportunity to explain or comment. observe the meeting of this committee today, “he added. Sirois said in his opening remarks when the subcommittee met Thursday afternoon. He is a Republican whose district includes part of Brevard County.

One of those critics was Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz, who issued a press release on Wednesday calling the two card projects gerrymandered to unfairly strengthen the Republican Party’s grip on Florida.

Outlets as diverse as POLITICO and Breitbart both reported this week that the subcommittee’s map projects proposed new districts in central Florida that would make re-election a long shot for U.S. Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy. . Meanwhile, Republican State Representative Anthony Sabatini, who is running for a seat in Congress, sang on social media Monday that “a new congressional map has been released by Florida House” that could make his campaign stronger. easy to win.

“Former District 7 (which I signed up for) is almost entirely District 6 now. Stay tuned! #winning, ”Sabatini tweeted on Monday, not clarifying that there were in fact two draft cards on the House side and neither had been considered by the House panel on the redistribution of Congress.

Sirois said on Thursday that “the political rhetoric that is caustically hurled in the media” is irrelevant because the draft Congress maps drawn by staff and released on Monday are just a “starting point” – not presented as legislation or committee bills or anything. as “workshop cards” to illustrate to members how their political choices will determine the design of districts when lawmakers meet in regular session starting Jan. 11.

Members of the subcommittee said they wrote both maps to illustrate how districts can be legally drawn in various ways depending on the federal requirement that lawmakers decide to prioritize.

Personnel manager Leda Kelly said, for example, that the districts in the two maps in the workshop divide 20 of Florida’s 67 counties, but one map divides 33 cities while the other map divides 40. Both create “protected districts” where black voters and Hispanic voters are grouped in sufficient numbers to elect the candidates of their choice.

Democrats on the subcommittee did not criticize the workshop cards, but expressed frustration that the cards were not released until three days before the group’s last meeting before the regular session began on January 11. . Many documents used in Thursday’s meeting were provided to members during the meeting.

Six members – three Republicans and three Democrats – were excused from the meeting.

In the Senate, staff on the Congressional Redistribution subcommittee released draft maps for the 28 districts that generated little stir among subcommittee members or observers.

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