Texas House Redistricting Round Up

This past week the Texas House Redistricting Committee released its proposed maps for the Texas House and the State Board of Education.

The proposed Texas House map matches 16 incumbent representatives with another representative, resulting in 8 pairings.

Flynn/Cain, Ritter/Hamilton, Landtroop/Perry, Chisum/Hardcastle, Driver/Burkett, Harper-Brown/R.Anderson, Hochberg/Vo, Torres/Scott

This map also creates eight open seats with no incumbent representative.  This is great news to the aspiring politicians in the respective open districts.

District 3—Montgomery (part) and Waller, District 12—McLennan (part), Brazos (part), Falls, Limestone, Robertson, District 33—Collin (part) and Rockwall, District 85—Fort Bend (part), Wharton and Jackson, District 88—Wise, Cook, Jack, Young, Throckmorton, Haskell, Stonewall, Kent, Garza, Lynn, Terry, Borden, District 101-Tarrant (part), District 106—Denton (part), District 149—Williamson (part), Burnet, Milam

This proposed map can be viewed on the Texas Legislative Council’s website. To view the plan, choose PLANH113 REP. SOLOMONS STATEWIDE HOUSE PROPOSAL from the Select Plans menu.

Just like the budget and HB 1, this is the first step in a very long process.  The Texas House Redistricting Committee is holding public hearings on the proposed map today and Sunday starting at 2:00 PM.  These meetings are open to the public in room E1.030 in the extension of the Texas Capitol.

Numerous groups are coming forward against the proposed map and are proposing their own maps as a better substitute.  Chairman Solomons will need to cobble together 76 votes for his map to pass the Texas House.  This may be hard to do though.  Even if a representative is happy with his or her’s own district map, they may be unhappy with the way the map treated their region or that their friends were not treated well, say by pairing them up with someone, or giving them a district with a majority new population.

Chairman Solomons passed HB 600 the proposed maps for the State Board of Education this week as well.

On the House floor Solomons explains HB 600 this way,

In order to meet the equal representation requirements to the U.S. Constitution, we need to apportion the 23 percent growth in the state among 15 districts, when 53 percent of the current districts are under the ideal, and their districts need to grow in size, or make some very strategic changes in the areas they represent. The committee substitute before you has a total deviation of 1.86 percent with a mean of .49 percent deviation. In order to meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, we cannot regress the five minority-majority districts from being able to elect the candidate of their choice. All five of these districts need to add population. Of the five minority-majority districts, all of have remained above 70 percent black and Hispanic voting age population.

The map released for the State Board of Education also has a tough road ahead.  The map was passed by the Texas House through HB 600 this week, but not over the objection of the conservative members of the Texas House for the way the map treats the incumbent conservative SBOE members including Hispanic member Charlie Garza.

The last minute pressure from the grassroots activists from around the state led to House Republican Caucus Chairman Larry Taylor to question Solomons on the House floor and formally enter their conversation in the House Journal to cite the intention of the Texas House to attempt to fix the conservatives districts in the proposed SBOE map.

REPRESENTATIVE L. TAYLOR: A number of us have been made aware here in the last hour or today, basically, of a number of issues that some SBOE members are having. We’re getting some e-mails in our district, are you aware of that?

SOLOMONS: Yes, I am.

L. TAYLOR: And if this bill passes today, it goes to the senate, and once it goes to the senate, there’s still some opportunity there to work on the map if there’s some changes that need to be made. The SBOE members could still have some input at that time?

SOLOMONS: This is just like any other bill. We’ll hopefully—if the house passes the bill today, it’ll go to third reading, then it’ll go to the senate, and the senate will have an opportunity to take that up and anybody interested, with continued interest in this, can talk to the senators, and whatever happens with the bill happens with the bill.

L. TAYLOR: And some members are being encouraged to vote no on this bill. What happens if this bill fails today?

SOLOMONS: If this bill fails to pass the Texas House, there is not a senate bill, companion bill, and so what would happen is you would have an issue on the SBOE redistricting that goes straight to the federal courthouse.

L. TAYLOR: We don’t have another shot at it? It goes to court?

SOLOMONS: It goes to the courthouse.

Let the games begin, with 45 days till Sine Die these two maps will definitely shake things up.

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