It is always a privilege to be part of something historic, and last week was one of those opportunities. After months of hearings all across Florida, the state House of Representatives passed three redistricting plans, a state Senate plan, a state House plan and a Florida congressional plan. It is historic, because the Legislature only reapportions legislative districts every 10 years This year was especially historic, because we had to follow Amendments 5 and 6, which were approved last year by you, the voters.
Ten years ago, the Redistricting Committee received four proposals from the public. This year, in total, the Legislature received 175 redistricting plans and more than 6,100 separate ideas were submitted by Floridians from around the state. Your input and the adoption of Amendments 5 and 6 to the Florida Constitution, made the 2012 redistricting process different than ever before and unlike most other states in the country.
Our state’s population has had a growth of almost 3 million since the last census, and our community reflects such growth. During a short car ride, the view can quickly change from working farms to outlet malls, sandy beaches to crowded downtowns and large oak trees to magnificent palms. Our community is as diverse as it is similar.
We all know that dramatic changes have occurred during the last 10 years in Florida, and the dialog that occurred in the public hearings and in the halls of the Capitol reflected that change. During the 26 meetings held throughout our state, more than 5,000 people attended, and the diversity of the public input reflected how much Florida has grown in 10 years. Just look at the change that has occurred in the East County since 2002. The growth in Lakewood Ranch and surrounding areas has been tremendous compared to other parts of the state. Further demonstrative of this is the size of my current State House seat, which is over-populated by 80,000 people.
The proposed district I am honored to currently represent will include east Manatee and Sarasota counties; I will no longer represent southern Hillsborough County. Lakewood Ranch will remain as one House legislative district, thanks to the many Lakewood Ranch residents who attended the Sarasota redistricting meeting and spoke publicly about how important it was for our community to remain whole and in one House district.
For most in the East County, your congressional district will remain the same, which is currently held by U.S. Rep. Buchanan. However if you live east of Verna Road or in Myakka City, you will be in a large, mostly rural and agricultural district, which stretches as far east as Okeechobee and as far west as Port Charlotte.
If you live south of University Parkway, you will be in the Senate district currently held by Sen. Nancy Detert. If you live north of University Parkway, you will be in an open district currently held by Sen. Mike Bennett. I encourage you to look at the maps located at our website, www.myfloridahouse.gov, to see more of the details.
Looking at the newly drawn lines, we can see that a balance was reached and the protections granted under the constitution have been adhered to. The voting districts in our area will change, and the boundary lines have moved. However, the new lines represent you and your input. Whether you stand in line at a new precinct or perhaps remain at your old precinct, know that you are casting a vote in a district that reflects your valuable input and feedback as a concerning constituent.
State Rep. Greg Steube represents Florida District 67.
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