By Dan Moffett


    A special legislative session failed to resolve the state’s redistricting problems last month, but it might have provided some clarity for coastal communities about their represent-ation in Congress going forward.
    While lawmakers could not agree on a new map for congressional districts statewide, they did agree on what Palm Beach and Broward counties should look like. That could be good news — or at least a measure of relief — for Democratic U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch.
7960589692?profile=original    Currently, Deutch’s District 21 and Frankel’s District 22 lie mostly in Palm Beach County and run parallel to each other, running north and south. Frankel’s district is to the east and Deutch’s to the west.
    Under new proposed boundaries that most legislators supported, Deutch’s district would be stacked atop Frankel’s. His constituents would all be in Palm Beach County, while Frankel’s would include Boca Raton south of the C-15 canal, and be mostly in Broward County.
    But, nothing about this is set in redistricting stone.
    Because the Legislature couldn’t agree on how to redraw several districts in central and western Florida, the 12-day session came to an acrimonious end without approval of a new statewide map. The lawmakers’ failure means a circuit court judge will have to redraw the 27 congressional districts.
    Frankel and Deutch so far have voiced no complaints about the proposed changes to their districts and have pledged to support each other going forward.
    “We both believe in the concept of fair districts and that congressional districts should be drawn to serve the people, not for the pleasure of elected officials,” they said in a joint statement. “We have both proudly worked as a team and with other members of our delegation, serving the residents of Palm Beach and Broward counties over many years. We both fully intend to run for re-election and we look forward to serving in Congress together as long as our constituents give us this honor. We are friends, have great respect for one another and both of us are fully committed to not running against each other.”
    Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis has scheduled hearings for Sept. 24-28 and hopes to make a recommendation for a new congressional map to the state Supreme Court by mid-October. In July, the high court ruled that Florida’s districts don’t meet constitutional requirements that prohibit political lines that favor incumbents or parties, and the justices ordered the Legislature to redraw the districts within 100 days.
    “The court said that there was gerrymandering and that Republicans had drawn districts based on politics,” said state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. “But I can’t be too hard on the Republicans. When Democrats ran the Legislature, they did the same thing.”
    Clemens said he’s hopeful that lawmakers will do better in October when they hold a special session to reconfigure the state’s Senate districts, including perhaps his own.
    “One way or another,” he said, “we’re going to have to get these districts redrawn.”

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