The Texas Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution to redistrict the state’s senatorial districts in preparation for considering a ten-year redistricting process. The move comes after new maps were drawn during a special session in 2021 that critics say increased Republican control of the state and disenfranchised minority voters.
While Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston’s approved proposal creates a special redistricting committee, allows for public hearings expected to begin later this month, and allows legislators to push a bill on the issue, the actual changes to the map are expected to be minor as the process is largely procedural and in line with the requirements of the Texas Constitution.
Huffman said the decision to move the resolution was made out of “too much caution to ensure that the Legislature fulfilled its duty to divide the state into senatorial districts.”
The 88th Legislative Assembly convenes, the state treasury is full, and the Republicans are still in power.
Huffman reminded lawmakers on Wednesday that the Senate must pass the allocation or redistricting during the first session after the decennial census. In addition, she expressed concern that lawmakers ended a special session in 2021 to redraw area maps before the census results are completed and released.
“Like the 2021 redistricting process, this resolution is meant to address the unique nature of redistricting to ensure a fair and transparent process,” Huffman said. “This resolution was discussed with members this week and was communicated to each of you on Tuesday, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
In 2021, the Mexican-American Legislative Group, which included 41 members of the Texas House – all but one of whom were Democrats – filed a federal lawsuit in November 2021 seeking to abolish new political districts, calling them discriminatory.
Caucus also filed a lawsuit in state court in Travis County, alleging that the map creating Texas House neighborhoods for the coming decade was drawn in violation of the “county line rule” of the state constitution, which limits how counties can be divided by redistribution of districts.
In the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting, the state of Texas is asking the Legislature to fund school security and police training.
On the same day in 2021, then-State Senator Beverly Powell, a member of the Burleson Democratic Party, joined six Tarrant County voters in filing a separate federal lawsuit in Austin alleging that her district had been dissolved in favor of future GOP candidates in “one of the the most extreme racial shenanigans in the country.”
The lawsuit says Powell’s 10th district, which went to Republican Phil King of Weatherford in 2022, has been cut in half, dividing minority communities and forcing many residents into areas dominated by distant voters with very different issues.
Huffman, chair of the new redistricting committee, said she expects to begin holding regional redistricting hearings at the Capitol between January 25 and 28.
Pick a number, any number
One by one, state senators learned on Wednesday how long they would serve in the Capitol during the term they won in the November election.
In a somewhat outdated and bizarre process that occurs once every ten years after redistricting, senators had to choose envelopes with numbers from 1 to 31, one for each member, with those who drew odd numbers serving four years and those who drew even numbers are two years. annual deadlines.
Those who chose a two-year term will be re-elected in 2024. If they win re-election in two years, they will be eligible for two additional four-year terms. Senators who choose a four-year term will serve until 2026 before they have to seek re-election. If they win re-election in 2026, they will only be eligible for an additional four-year term before starting to be elected for two-year terms in subsequent re-election bids.
Senators who will hold their districts for the next four years:
- Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury
- Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe
- Pete Flores, R-Pleasanton
- Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio
- Bob Hall, R-Canton
- Brian Hughes, R-Mineola
- Lois Colkhorst, R-Brenham
- Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio
- Mays Middleton, R-Galveston
- Borris Miles, D-Houston
- Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville
- Charles Perry, R-Lubbock
- Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown
- Kevin Sparks, R-Midland
- Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo
Senators who will be elected for two-year terms:
- Carol Alvarado, D-Houston
- Paul Betancourt, R-Houston
- Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso
- Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels
- Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin
- Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen
- Joan Huffman, R-Houston;
- Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas
- Phil King, R-Weatherford
- Morgan LaMantia, D-South Padre Island
- Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound
- Angela Paxton, R-McKinney
- Drew Springer, R-Munster
- Royce West, D-Dallas
- John Whitmire, D-Houston
Ahead of another Senate campaign season, the upper house has appointed members to a committee to collect votes for the governor and lieutenant governor, which is expected to meet in a joint session on Thursday.
The Senate Inaugural Committee was also appointed on Wednesday, just under a week before Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Dan Patrick were inaugurated Tuesday.