Texas Senate Reopens Redistricting Hearings, But Map Changes Unlikely

This week, a group of Texas senators will hold hearings on the state’s latest congressional district maps.

But the procedural move is unlikely to result in any changes to the political boundaries adopted in 2021, said Senator Carol Alvarado, D-Houston.

“But here we are. We’re going to go ahead and expect the same result,” Alvarado said, noting that if lawmakers pass the new cards, every senator will have to run for a second term in two years.

Beginning Wednesday and continuing through the weekend, the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting will focus on a map defining state Senate districts in six hearings.

Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, recently said the Senate must fulfill its constitutional duty to re-adopt the cards.

“I propose that the 88th Legislature again take up the Senate map… as a precaution to ensure that the Legislature fulfills its duty of apportioning the state to senatorial districts in its first regular session since the publication of the 24th Decade. US Census, Huffman said from the Senate floor January 11th.

Texas Constitution establishes that: “The Legislature shall, in its first regular session after the publication of each decennial census of the United States, apportion the state into senatorial and representative districts.”

This is usually not a problem for Texas legislators. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau did not release the data Texas needed to redistrict until August 2021, a few months after the regular session of the state legislature ended.

Texas legislators approved the new maps in a special session, and these counties were used during the 2022 election cycle.

Alvarado told The Texas Newsroom on Monday that Democrats have warned the Republican majority not to hand over cards during the special session.

“We kept saying, ‘You can’t do that in the special (session)’.” It’s clearly stated here in the Constitution,” the Houston Democrat said.

Huffman, chairman of the Senate’s redistricting committee, did not respond to a request for comment.

The cards, approved by the Texas Legislature in 2021, have sparked controversy.

Democratic Legislative Duo and Mexican American Legislative Council sued the state arguing that the legislative maps violate the Texas Constitution because they separate counties that should otherwise have remained intact.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice disputed the cards. claiming they discriminate against Hispanic voters and other minority groups.

Alvarado said Democrats plan to introduce amendments to the current maps similar to the amendments they made in the 2021 redistricting process.

“We tried to introduce adjustments that reflect the growth of Texas,” Alvarado said. “Ninety-five percent of the growth in Texas was based on ethnic growth, but we’ve seen some easing of that on the maps nonetheless.”

Copyright 2023 CUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

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