Florida Senate - 2017                                     SB 352
       By Senator Hutson
       7-00223A-17                                            2017352__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to legislative redistricting and
    3         congressional reapportionment; creating s. 97.029,
    4         F.S.; requiring a court to provide for an expedited
    5         hearing and ruling in a challenge to state legislative
    6         or congressional district boundaries; providing that
    7         candidate qualifying, nomination, and election for
    8         certain offices must proceed using current district
    9         boundaries if revisions to districts are not made as
   10         of a certain date; specifying public oversight
   11         procedures that a court is encouraged to follow when
   12         drafting a remedial redistricting plan; providing for
   13         construction; providing an effective date.
   15         WHEREAS, uncertainty regarding the boundaries of state
   16  legislative and congressional districts can create confusion
   17  among candidates and voters, with candidates uncertain as to
   18  which districts they should run in and how they should allocate
   19  finite campaign resources, and voters uncertain as to which
   20  district they reside in or the polling place to which they are
   21  assigned, and
   22         WHEREAS, with each redistricting of state legislative
   23  districts and each reapportionment of congressional districts,
   24  supervisors of elections are tasked with the timely and
   25  intricate process of redrawing precinct lines and reassigning
   26  voters to new polling places, and
   27         WHEREAS, finalizing the boundaries of state legislative and
   28  congressional districts shortly before an election hampers the
   29  ability of supervisors of elections and other election officials
   30  to effectively administer an election, and
   31         WHEREAS, in recent rulings relating to challenges to
   32  district boundaries, courts have recognized the legal and
   33  logistical difficulties associated with implementing revised
   34  district boundaries within an abbreviated timeframe, as well as
   35  the financial cost of holding a special election to implement
   36  new districts, NOW, THEREFORE,
   38  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   40         Section 1. Section 97.029, Florida Statutes, is created to
   41  read:
   42         97.029 Challenges to state legislative or congressional
   43  districts.—
   44         (1) If the validity of boundaries of senatorial,
   45  representative, or congressional districts of the state is
   46  challenged in state court, the court, including an appellate
   47  court, must set an immediate hearing, giving the case priority
   48  over other pending cases, and render a decision as expeditiously
   49  as possible.
   50         (2) If the challenge is still pending when the qualifying
   51  period for persons seeking nomination or election to state or
   52  multicounty district office, other than the office of state
   53  attorney or the public defender, begins pursuant to s.
   54  99.061(1), candidate qualifying, nomination, and election for
   55  the offices in the plan subject to the challenge must proceed
   56  using the districts that are in place on the 71st day before the
   57  primary election. If a court orders revisions to senatorial,
   58  representative, or congressional districts on or after the 71st
   59  day before the primary election, the revised districts shall
   60  govern beginning with the subsequent primary and general
   61  elections in the next even-numbered year.
   62         (3) If a court orders revisions to congressional districts
   63  after the qualifying period for persons seeking nomination or
   64  election to federal office has concluded at noon of the 116th
   65  day before the primary election, candidates for the United
   66  States House of Representatives must requalify in accordance
   67  with the revised congressional districts during the qualifying
   68  period from noon on the 71st day before the primary election to
   69  noon on the 67th day before the primary election.
   70         (4) In the event that a court drafts a remedial
   71  redistricting plan as a result of a successful challenge to the
   72  validity of boundaries of senatorial, representative, or
   73  congressional districts, the court is encouraged to use the
   74  following procedures in drafting the remedial plan in order to
   75  maintain public oversight:
   76         (a) Conduct public hearings on proposed configurations of
   77  district boundaries in the remedial plan.
   78         (b) Record and maintain minutes of meetings on the remedial
   79  plan which are closed to the public.
   80         (c) Provide a mechanism for the public to submit and
   81  comment on alternative maps.
   82         (d) Offer an opportunity for the public to review and
   83  comment on any proposed map before the remedial plan is
   84  finalized.
   85         (e) Maintain all e-mails and documents related to the
   86  drafting of the remedial plan.
   87         (5) This section does not supersede or impair the
   88  procedures governing the judicial review of apportionment as set
   89  forth in s. 16, Art. III of the State Constitution.
   90         Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.