Florida House Prepares to Release Redistricting Maps

Redistricting maps are set to be released by the Florida House of Representatives later Tuesday for state legislative and congressional districts.

The Senate Reapportionment Committee, meanwhile, on Tuesday is taking a vote on introducing its redistricting plans for the Senate and Congress.

Florida is adding two more congressional districts in 2012 due to population growth.

One of those new seats in the Senate's plan would be 40 percent Hispanic in central Florida. That's less, though, than the 46 percent district proposed by Hispanic groups.

Most Hispanics in central Florida are Puerto Rican, which should favor Democrats. The other new seat, also in central Florida, appears to be solidly Republican, though.

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Democrats have criticized the Senate maps, saying they favor Republicans. The GOP currently controls both of Florida's legislative chambers and has 19-6 edge in U.S. House seats.

Florida’s Latino population grew by more than 50 percent since 2000, according to Census data. It is the Latino growth that led to the state’s gain of two congressional seats.

Nationwide, U.S. Latinos number slightly more than 50 million people and make up 16 percent of the population, according to the 2010 Census.

Legal challenges have been mounted in several states, including Colorado, Arizona and Texas, over proposed redistricting maps.

In a move that aims to protect minority voting power, a federal court recently issued a proposed interim map for Texas congressional districts ahead of the 2012 election.

Some observers believe the interim map can benefit Democrats,improving their chances of winning additional seats. The court-drawn maps will remain in place until there is a resolution to two parallel legal fights over redistricting maps drawn by the Legislature.

Redistricting occurs every ten years, following the release of the Census.

This story contains material from The Associated Press.

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