The Corcoran Report: August 2011
Florida's Legislature hasn't slowed during the days of summer. Instead, leadership set an ambitious schedule of redistrict meetings to be held throughout the state over the summer months. And with session beginning in January, because this is a redistricting year, legislative committees will begin meeting earlier and more often in the Fall.

Redistricting

Every ten years, following completion of the census, the Legislature draws new district boundaries for Congressional, State House and Senate districts. Local governments also go through this same process, with county commissions and city councils drawing new boundaries for their districts. This process is called redistricting.

Because Florida's population continues to grow, Florida gained two new Congressional seats, which must be created. Florida's House continues to have 120 members and Florida's Senate has 40 members.

Florida's Legislature created a joint committee to craft the new districts. This joint committee is currently traveling the state, conducting more than two dozen public hearings across Florida, soliciting input and public participation in the crafting of new district boundaries.

For meeting dates and locations, you can visit www.floridaredistricting.org. This website also features tools allowing you to view census and demographic data, craft district boundaries and submit them for consideration.

Following completion of the public hearings the committee will recommend new district boundaries, which the entire Legislature must approve. Once approved, the new districts will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure fair and equitable representation in districts by all groups. Should the U.S. Department of Justice not approve certain districts, the courts will craft those district boundaries.

Early Legislative Session

Due to redistricting, Florida voters in 2010 approved a change in Florida's Constitution permitting an early start for this year's Legislative Session. As a result, session begins the second week of January and runs into early March.

With session beginning two months early, a greater number of committee meetings will be held in the Fall than is typical. Committees are scheduled to meet one week in September, three weeks in October, two weeks in November and one week in December. Legislators are already busy preparing and filing legislation for consideration due to the early start of committee meetings and session.

State Budget

According to recent estimates, Florida's revenue collections have balanced out over the last several months. The result is that state economists don't currently estimate significant cuts for the state budget. However, the estimates don't currently support growth in the state budget either. While last year the Legislature had to cut more than $3.5 billion in spending to balance the budget, it doesn't appear that will be necessary again this year. Revenue estimates are due again in the late Fall and early Spring, before the end of the legislative session.

Elections

Against the backdrop of all this legislative activity, candidates are gearing up for election. Typically, Congressional and State House races occur every two years and this remains the case. During a redistricting year, all State Senate seats also appear on the ballot.

With the sheer number of seats available and the prospect of changing district boundaries, candidates are already working to raise funds and create campaign organizations.

In addition, one of Florida's U.S. Senate seats is on the ballot this year with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson running for re-election. Several Republicans have announced their intention to run and already there is a spirited Republican primary race underway for the nomination.

Public Notice

We continue to monitor the public notice issue. We anticipate legislation being filed again this session seeking to modify public notice requirements and participation. CPF and FCPAN will continue to offer input on this issue during committee meetings and through the legislative session.

Thank you for the opportunity to continue serving the members of CPF. We stand ready to continue assisting you and your leadership team throughout the coming legislative session.


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