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. 14 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, 37 38 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 39 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.