Florida legislators will convene in special session at noon on Thursday and could adjourn as early as Monday under a proposed schedule released by House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz on Monday.
The leaders announced that the redistricting committees will work in tandem on Friday and all legislators are expected to return to Tallahassee on Monday and be prepared to stay until noon Aug. 15, at the latest. Download Special Session Proclamation (1)
Gaetz has appointed Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, as chairman of the Senate redistricting committee and Weatherford has appointed Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity.
Meanwhile, Gaetz echoed Weatherford's concern about applying the congressional map to the 2014 elections and accused the opponents of being partisans "masquerading as voting rights groups."
“Speaker Weatherford's and my goal is to move forward without delay to remedy the boundaries of the two congressional districts which the court found to be invalid. Because the court held intact 25 of the state's 27 congressional districts as the Legislature drew them, I believe we can and should meet the court's requirements with minimal impact on the rest of the state,'' Gaetz said in a statement.
"I remain firm in my objection to disrupting the 2014 election that is already in progress with overseas military and absentee ballots. I represent uniformed military and their families on five bases and cannot in good conscience allow them to be disenfranchised by disrupting the elections schedule. Other than the partisan plaintiffs masquerading as voting rights groups, I can find no one who would want a postponed or special election to leave Florida without representation in Congress for months, weeks or even days.”
Here's the memo released today:
All Members of the Florida Legislature
Don Gaetz, President of the Senate
Will Weatherford, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
Redistricting Special Session
August 4, 2014
In response to the rulings issued by Judge Lewis on July 10, 2014, and August 1, 2014, the Florida Legislature has decided to produce a Congressional map to address the Court’s limited concerns. Accordingly, the House and Senate have agreed to call ourselves into special session on Thursday, August 7, 2014, for the sole purpose of passing a Congressional map.
We continue to maintain our strong objection to any attempt to disrupt the current election process. Florida’s Supervisors of Elections have raised serious concerns over changing the elections process at this late date. The NAACP also pointed out in their motion to Judge Lewis that, “In a special election, get-out-the-vote infrastructure simply does not exist. Voters who face challenges to political participation – be it financial, job scheduling, transportation, or other impediments – will be irreparably harmed by conducting the election at a time where that infrastructure does not exist.”
Tens of thousands of our service men and women overseas have received their ballots, and over one million absentee ballots have been mailed to Floridians. We intend to vigorously defend the integrity and validity of Floridians’ votes that have already been cast, and that will be cast in the upcoming election.
We understand that calling a special session at this late date will require you to rearrange your schedules. To assist you, please find below the anticipated Committee and Session schedule, House Select Committee and Senate Reapportionment Committee assignments and travel authorization details.
Thursday, August 7
12:00 noon Special Session convenes
2:30 p.m. Concurrent meeting of the Senate Committee on Reapportionment and the House Select Committee – All Senators and Representatives invited, but not required to attend.
Friday, August 8
10:15 a.m. House Redistricting Committee meeting
10:15 a.m. Senate Reapportionment Committee meeting
*TBD House Rules and Calendar meeting Special Order
Until further notice Senators and House Members who choose to return home over the weekend should plan to be back in Tallahassee by Monday, August 11, 2014.
The Special Session will conclude on Friday, August 15, 2014, at noon, or upon final passage of a Congressional map.
Senate Reapportionment Committee Appointments
Senator Bill Galvano, Chair
Senator Chris Smith, Vice Chair
Senator Rob Bradley
Senator Audrey Gibson
Senator Tom Lee
Senator Bill Montford
Senator David Simmons
House Select Committee Assignments
Chair: Representative Richard Corcoran (R-37)
Vice Chair: Representative Charles McBurney (R-16)
Representative Matthew Caldwell (R- 79)
Representative Travis Cummings (R-18)
Representative Larry Metz (R-32)
Representative Jose Oliva (R-110)
Representative Kathleen Passidomo (R-106)
Representative Dana Young (R-60)
Representative Lori Berman (D-90)
Representative Reggie Fullwood (D-13)
Representative Kionne McGhee (D-117)
Representative Jose Rodriguez (D-112)
Representative Perry Thurston (D-94)
Members are authorized to travel on Wednesday, August 6, and reasonable travel time to return to the district will be allowed following the adjournment of the special session. Senators and House Members will also be reimbursed for one round trip home during the special session and do not need to submit a Request for Authorization to Incur Travel Expenses for these trips. Please be reminded that session subsistence is only applicable during regular session, therefore, during this special session, travel expenses are authorized for either per diem or lodging at a single occupancy rate plus the meal allowance.
District employees are not authorized to travel at Senate or House expense to organization session or special sessions. Members who wish their staff to attend, however, may reimburse such travel costs out of their Intradistrict Expense Allowance account, Member Expense Allowance Account (MEA), or Excess Campaign Office Account.
House Members, should you have any questions about the upcoming special session, please do not hesitate contacting Chief of Staff Kathy Mears at (850) 717-5000.
Senators, should you have any questions please contact the President’s Office via (850) 487-5229.
Additional information will be published as details are confirmed.
We look forward to seeing each of you in Tallahassee within the next 72 hours.