Following recent speculation that Gov. Ron DeSantis could call lawmakers back to Tallahassee to settle the ongoing redistricting spat, the governor made it official on Tuesday morning, announcing that a special legislative session will be held April 19-22 in order to pass the required redistricting maps the state has not yet agreed on.
DeSantis also announced that he formally vetoed the maps previously approved by the legislature. DeSantis argued the maps approved by the state’s legislature complied with Florida’s constitution but were in violation 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“We have a responsibility to produce maps for our citizens that do not contain unconstitutional racial gerrymanders,” said DeSantis. “Today, I vetoed a map that violates the U.S. Constitution, but that does not absolve the Legislature from doing its job. I appreciate the Legislature’s willingness to work with me to pass a legally compliant map this Special Session.”
Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, issued a joint statement saying they would work to craft a congressional map that can be supported by lawmakers and DeSantis.
“I think if you did a map along the lines that we had proposed, it would be challenged and there’ll be plaintiffs that will say that that big district in North Florida, District 5, that it is diminishment and that it must be put in; they’re going to ask courts, most likely state courts up to the Florida Supreme Court, to put that district back in and they will cite that provision of Florida constitution,” said DeSantis. “We will obviously say it’s unconstitutional to draw a district like that where race is the only factor and so that will be a decision that probably is enough to resolve the map.”
When asked if other pressing issues facing the state like property insurance and data privacy could be dealt with during the special session, DeSantis reaffirmed that the primary concern is redistricting, and all energy will be devoted to tackling map drawing.
“You know, there are a few things we still need to deal with like property insurance, data privacy, and constitutional carry, but we need to get this [redistricting] done,” said DeSantis. “If the opportunity presents itself, we’ll cross that bridge.”