Hays sits on the Senate Committee on Reapportionment, which some Democratic lawmakers want him thrown off that panel for his comment that "before we design a district anywhere in the state of Florida for Hispanic voters, we need to ascertain that they are citizens of the United States.” He later added that "We all know there are many Hispanic-speaking people in Florida that are not legal,’’ he said. “And I just don’t think it’s right that we try to draw a district that encompasses people that really have no business voting anyhow,” he said.
Tampa House Democrat Janet Cruz wrote once again to Senate President Haridopolos today, who has so far remained mute when asked by her and other lawmakers to remove Hays from that committee.
"Well that's where my frustration lies," Cruz told Cl late Wednesday afternoon."It's been no response, no action taken."
Florida will gain two new congressional seats thanks to its growing population and plans to create a majority-Hispanic district in Central Florida, where the Puerto Rican population has surged over the past decade.
In addition to Cruz, Orlando Democratic Representative Darren Soto also wrote to Senate President Haridopolos on Wednesday, where he wrote that Hays comments "seems to indicate that we (Hispanics) are somehow unworthy of voting and of having representation."
When asked why she believes that there hasn't been reaction, if not outrage at Hays' remarks, Cruz says that in 2011, it's par for the course with the GOP.
"It polls well, in the Republican primaries and in my opinion, it's pieces of red meat that they're throwing out to what they deem as their constituency in a primary but, I feel as a representative of the Hispanic community that enough is enough, and I'm going to continue on."
Cruz represents House District 58, whose heart is in West Tampa, which is largely Latino. She says she will continue to reach out to Senate President Haridopolos waiting for a response, and won't take his silence for an answer. And she says she'll bring some of the Puerto Rican activists from the Orlando area with her to sit in on a Senate hearing asking the chair of the Redistricting Committee why Hays is still sitting on it.
"Until we get some satisfaction, we're not going to stop," she insists, adding that "You're supposed to serve as a judge serves on the bench, you're supposed to serve and be fair and unbiased and unprejudiced. And his comments were none of the above."
CL contacted Senator Haridopolos office for comment. If and when such a response comes, we'll post it here.