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For Broward lawmakers, a session to tackle redistricting, gambling

Broward lawmakers, most of them Democrats, have fought loudly but been largely powerless in the Republican-controlled state Capitol.

That won’t change in the annual legislative session that begins Tuesday.

Yet Broward, mostly by virtue of its location, will be at the heart of a key, heated debate that will play out in Tallahassee over the next two months: Should the state allow big-time casinos in South Florida?

Leading the issue is Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, one of the county delegation’s few Republicans. Along with Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, Bogdanoff is pushing to reshape gambling in Florida and allow up to three so-called “destination resort” casinos in Florida.

And Broward, the second-largest county in the state, will also be at the center of redistricting, the once-a-decade process of drawing new legislative districts to ensure each has an equal population.

Redistricting, also known as reapportionment, will force all Florida House and Senate members to be up for election this fall — a prospect that will make this year’s session more political than usual as every lawmaker casts votes with an eye on November.

Most of lawmakers’ time will be spent on redistricting and crafting a state budget. Florida faces a projected shortfall of $1.7 billion; Gov. Rick Scott has called for a $1 billion boost in public school spending, paid for in part by cutting state Medicaid payments to hospitals. Full stoy here.