The Legislature's answer to the "Fair Districts" redistricting amendment is about to pass the Senate.
Republican sponsor Mike Haridopolos said the amendment simply clarified the amendments proposed by Fair Districts, which he and others said could weaken minority voting districts due to the vagaries of reapportionment case law. To bolster his claim, sens Al Lawson (the Democratic leader) and Gary Siplin (the black caucus leader) co-introduced the bill.
But all other Democrats and black lawmakers in the Senate opposed the measure.
"It is not about protecting minorities," Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa. "It is about holding on to power."
Sen. Mike Benett, R-Bradenton, said Fair Districts isn't really "grassroots." Instead, it's a coalition of liberals. He pointed out that unions and trial lawyers were among the biggest contributors.
Siplin said he was just trying to protect minority-access seats, such as his Orlando-based district which is about equally divided into three groups: Blacks, Hispanics and whites. Siplin faulted Fair Districts for not consulting with him. And he thanked Haridopolos for giving him the chance to participate in the redistricting hearings because he wanted to make sure that any new standards "protect" lawmakers like him.
The Legislature's amendment: Download RedistH7231
A Fair District amendment: Download Fair District