Texas House takes up new congressional map proposal as special session nears an end

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Saturday night, state lawmakers are at the Capitol making final changes to the state’s congressional delegation map, one of the final steps in the redistricting process.

It only happens once every 10 years, and this decade, the growth Texas experienced gained two additional seats to the state’s delegation. The proposed plan has already passed with Republican support in the state Senate.

“The requirement to equalize district populations, based on the 2020 census, keeping political subdivisions together, keeping communities of interest together, preserving the cores of existing districts,” said State Rep. Todd Hunter, (R – Corpus Christi), as he began to lay out the bill Saturday evening. He said he believes the Senate’s map followed all of the rules in place for redistricting, set by the constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

“Although race cannot be the predominant factor in drawing maps, what we’ve referred to is section two of that Act prohibits any enactment of any plan that restricts minority citizens from having an opportunity to elect their preferred candidate of choice if certain circumstances exist,” Rep. Hunter continued.

But, Democrats spent the night trying to change the map. The first proposed amendment, by State Rep. Chris Turner (D – Grand Prairie), tried to strike the enacting clause of the bill, which would essentially kill the bill as is and force lawmakers to completely start over. That amendment, along with most others proposed by Democrats, failed.

Rep. Turner took issue with how the two new congressional seats were added to the map. He and other Democrats said it does not accurately reflect where the state has grown.

“Despite that, 95% of the growth was attributable to non-Anglo Texans, these two new congressional districts are majority Anglo districts,” Rep. Turner said.

The state has faced legal troubles due to redistricting a decade ago.

“Since the legislature has been found to be intentionally discriminatory during the last decade by three different federal courts. What steps were taken to see that that did not occur again?” State Rep. Rafael Anchia, (D – Dallas), asked Rep. Hunter Saturday.

“We’ve had this discussion before and I do not agree with your statement, because I looked at the final decision of the US Supreme Court, five to four, which said Texas’ plan and proposals were correct,” Rep. Hunter responded.

The debate is expected to last well into the evening. Once House lawmakers vote on it, it heads back to the Senate for one final stamp of approval before heading to the governor’s desk.

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