As the afternoon fades on this Friday in August, the Florida Supreme Court has not yet issued a ruling as to how it wants to proceed in the redistricting impasse over the congressional maps.
Senate Redistricting chief Bill Galvano told the Herald/Times he believes the court is prepared to give the Legislature more time to work out differences between the House and Senate, if they can soon agree to reconvene in special session.
"The door is still open to talk and reconvene, although that hasn’t been agreed to,'' said Galvano, R-Bradenton, in an interview. "There was a misunderstanding that the court was going to order or issue a statement today. The Supreme Court operates on its own time schedule. We still have until Oct. 17."
Meanwhile, Senate President Andy Gardiner on Friday formally requested a meeting with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli to discuss convening another special session to discuss the alternate map offered by Galvano. Download 8 27 15 Speaker Crisafulli
Nearly a week after the last legislative session ended in stalemate, Galvano offered up a "compromise" map on Thursday that attempts to appease many of the concerns the House had with the final Senate map. On Friday, House Redistricting chairman Jose Oliva responded in a letter to House members that the Senate map had promise -- but also warned that it may be too late.
"If the Senate had offered an amendment like the map filed by Chairman Galvano yesterday afternoon, that map would have been given serious consideration,'' Oliva wrote.
On the same day Galvano offered up his new plan, the challengers to the redistricting map asked the Supreme Court to take over the map-drawing process, saying that after three attempts and three failures the court should no longer trust lawmakers to work it out.
But Galvano believes the court may be a bit more open-minded and may be willing to give lawmakers more time. If lawmakers can agree to convene again in special session and pass the compromise map, the challengers will have an opportunity to raise questions in court about whatever legislators pass.
"It’s not as if the plaintiffs need a whole lot of discovery,'' he said. "What we’ve done in two weeks can be figured out very quickly."
But, Galvano, added, "it's not just Chair Oliva and myself making decisions and working with each other. What makes it so difficult is there are lawyers from each chamber and the lawyers don’t always agree on how everything is interpreted."
Still, with the stakes so high and the intense desire to avoid setting the precedent of turning over redistricting to the courts, Galvano remained optimistic that lawmakers would return. "I'm sure I'll see you soon,'' he said.
The House's openness to a new Senate plan comes after Galvano offered a map that for the first time appeased the House's call for consistency. It also comes after the Senate announced it has resolved its leadership battle for the 2016-18 legislative session with Sen. Joe Negron amassing more pledges among Senate Republicans than Sen. Jack Latvala. For many in the House leadership, Negron is the preferred candidate.