Blog: Senate President Mike Haridopolos says redistricting next week; no budget allocations

Jan 24, 2012

The following article was published in The Orlando Sentinel on January 24, 2012:

Haridopolos: Redistricting next week; no budget allocations

Senate President Mike Haridopolos told his caucus the Senate planned to take up new redistricting maps as soon as next Friday once the House passes them.

“We’ve made some progress with the House and we may have the opportunity to push these into the Attorney General’s hands,” the Merritt Island Republican said at a Senate GOP caucus meeting Tuesday night.

The House is slated to debate and pass its maps as soon as next Thursday. The new House and Senate maps will then go to AG Pam Bondi’s office for review, while the congressional maps will need Gov. Rick Scott’s concurrence. The Florida Supreme Court will have 30 days to review the new legislative maps once Bondi’s office is finished, and passing them next week could theoretically give lawmakers enough time to make court-ordered changes before the session ends March 9.

The federal Justice Department ultimately has to okay both plans, and then lawsuits are expected to be filed.

With a June 4 start to candidate qualifying for next fall’s elections, lawmakers are trying to ramp the plans into the courts as soon as possible.

House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, also said Tuesday night that there was an agreement on the congressional maps and an amendment would be filed to the House plan by noon Wednesday.

“We’ve made good progress,” he said.

The news on the budget: not so good. Haridopolos told his members he had not released “allocations” for budget committees and didn’t know if that was “a week away, or two weeks away.”

Haridopolos said he wanted to allow for more public testimony and input from individual senators, and he was concerned “a lot of the weight” of making cuts was being shifted onto health-care programs. The House earlier Tuesday unveiled $291 million in proposed hospital Medicaid rate reductions, a 7 percent cut that the Senate hopes to avoid.

“We are not stopping the budget process. What we’re making sure we have is a thorough process,” Haridopolos said.

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