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Legislature sets special session for October to redraw Florida Senate districts

@JeremySWallace

The Florida Legislature has set yet another special session, this time for October to redraw the Florida Senate district lines that opponents had argued violated the state constitution prohibition on gerrymandering to favor or disfavor politicians.

The Legislature will meet from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6, according to a joint statement put out by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.

It will mark the third special session this year. In June, legislators met in special session to finish a budget that was not completed during the regular session in the spring. In August, legislators will be in special session again to redraw the state's 27 congressional districts, which the Florida Supreme Court ruled earlier this month violated the state consitution.

The court had not instructed the Legislature to redraw the Senate lines yet, but Senate leaders have agreed to make the changes now based on they said was a new precedent the Supreme Court set in throwing out the Congressional lines.

In its landmark ruling, the Supreme Court invalidated the state's congressional map after political operatives "infiltrated" the process, used fake email accounts to submit the maps as nonpartisan private citizens and created districts that found their way into the final maps approved by lawmakers. Because those actions violated the Fair Districts provisions of the state Constitution, the court ordered lawmakers to redraw eight congressional districts and provided guidelines on how to do it.

A trial over the Senate map was scheduled to begin Sept. 28 in Leon County Circuit Court in a case in which two Democrat-leaning groups, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, argue that 28 of the 40 Senate districts were designed to favor incumbents and the Republican Party, violating the Fair Districts amendments to the state Constitution.

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