Texas House redistricting likely to end in court

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April 29, 2011

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

By Jimmy Ardis

AUSTIN,Texas: After sixteen hours of debate yesterday morning, the Texas House of Representatives came to a tentative decision on a new map of its 150 political districts. Republican Rep. Burt Solomons, Chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, headed the contentious discussions. Various groups proposed amendments, mostly to further the political interests of specific minority groups. Hispanic, African American, and Asian groups all protested that the plan protected Republican interests at the expense of minority constituents.[1]

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D) of San Antonio presented eight different mapping options that would offer better representation for minorities. “One of his alternatives, he said, would create more districts with populations that are more than 50 percent Latino, more than 50 percent black, and more than 50 percent black and Latino combined than in the Solomons map.”[1] Rep. Sylvester Turner (D) spoke as a representative of black House members stating; "I think it's very important for African Americans not to participate in their own demise," referring to perceived loss of black representation. Under the current plan, some historically black districts are at risk of becoming majority-Hispanic.[1]

Although most of the resistance came from House Democrats, Republican Rep. Wayne Christian claimed a map drawn by him and six others would have gained even better Republican representation amongst the state’s districts. Internal negotiations amongst Republican members resulted in their plan not being submitted. While the proposed plan preserves Republican power, some Republican members will still be paired against each other in the next election. Commenting on misgivings with the plan, Rep. Solomons noted "I recognize that some members are not going to be pleased with the results of the map..."It's very personal ... to everyone here."[1]

Ultimately the map, which favors the Republican supermajority, was passed in a 92-52 vote. Ten Republicans voted against the map and three Democrats voted in favor. But the battle is far from over. Given the heated controversy surrounding the passing of map, it is highly likely the map will be challenged in court. Displeased with Hispanic representation under the current map, Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said ""This is exactly where we're going to go."[1]

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