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Florida: would it cost less to have a redistricting commission?

The Tallahassee Democrat reports: Taxpayers could save half the cost of redrawing Florida's political boundaries by taking that enormous power away from legislators and giving it to an independent commission, backers of the plan said Tuesday.

Attorney Mark Herron, a veteran elections-law lawyer and former head of the Florida Commission on Ethics, said it's impossible to know exactly how much the state spent on redistricting in 2001-02. But he told a special economic-impact task force that the current remapping process is "duplicative" as the House and Senate pass overlapping and conflicting plans for their own districts and congressional boundaries every 10 years - then cut deals to protect incumbents, divide seats between parties or open up new tracts for powerful bosses.

"There would be a cost for expenses of the commission, for commission staff, for computers," Herron said of the independent-commission plan. "But it would be approximately half of the cost now because there would not be duplication."

The House and Senate have separate reapportionment committees, each with its own staff of statisticians, demographers and legal experts. They also hire outside counsel to advise and represent the leadership during Justice Department review and in court, once legislative and congressional plans are adopted. -- Tallahassee Democrat | 09/21/2005 | Cost of redrawing boundaries panned