Special session in October to redraw Florida Senate maps

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 9:13 PM EDT

The Florida Legislature will go into special session in October to redraw the state's Senate districts.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner called for the special session on Tuesday. It will be the third special session of the year.

The decision was made after the Florida Supreme Court threw out congressional maps earlier this month because they violated the state's constitution.

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The legislative leaders said that ruling would have implications on a lawsuit challenging Senate maps. The special session will begin Oct. 19 and end Nov. 6.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican in charge of the Senate redistricting committee, called the decision the "prudent thing to do." He said the Supreme Court ruling would have made it difficult for the Legislature to prevail.

"As a lawyer I understand you have to judge future outcomes from past outcomes," Galvano said. "This hopefully will bring this issue to a close."

The Senate took full responsibility for violating the constitution, saying in a court filing that the House had no input on the Senate districts.

"The Florida House of Representatives did not amend the Senate Plan and had no role in its creation. The Florida House of Representatives did not intend to favor or disfavor any political party or incumbent, and had no knowledge of any constitutional infirmities relating to the Senate Plan," lawyers for the Senate wrote.

Lawmakers are already scheduled to return to the Capitol next month to draw new congressional maps, as they did last year after a circuit court judge ruled they violated the constitution. The Supreme Court ruled this month that the redraw still didn't meet constitutional requirements.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 requiring compact political districts that don't benefit parties or incumbents. Republicans have a 26-14 majority in the state Senate.

"What happened in 2012 when the districts were drawn undercover with no intention of considering the best needs of a district and its voters was an egregious example of greed, influence and naked political ambition," said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters.

Lawmakers also held a special session in June to resolve a budget dispute.