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Texas House proposes map that increases Republican strength and white majority districts

The Texas Legislature is in the midst of its third special session, which is dedicated to redrawing political maps based on the latest census data, which showed people of color fueled 95% of Texas’ population growth over the past decade.
(Bob Daemmrich/CapitolPressPhoto/Pool)
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 11:48 AM CDT
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Texas House members on Thursday released its first proposal for a new map redrawing the chamber's 150-member districts. The initial draft would both increase Republicans' strength across the state and the number of districts in which white residents make up a majority of eligible voters.

House Bill 1, authored by Corpus Christi Rep. Todd Hunter, the GOP chair of the House redistricting committee, is just the first draft, and it will likely change as it makes its way through the legislative process before it’s signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott. The House committee is expected to consider public testimony in the coming days on this first version of the chamber’s map.

The Texas Legislature is in the midst of its third special session, which is dedicated to redrawing political maps based on the latest census data, which showed people of color fueled 95% of Texas’ population growth over the past decade.

The House draft would also pit several incumbents against one another, including two El Paso Democrats — state Reps. Evelina "Lina" Ortega and Claudia Ordaz Perez — who would have to vie for House District 77. Ortega represents the current House District 77, while Ordaz Perez holds the seat in House District 76.

In two other cases, state Reps. Jacey Jetton, R-Richmond, and Phil Stephenson, R-Wharton, would have to compete for the proposed House District 26, while state Reps. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, and Terry Wilson, R-Marble Falls, would face off for the new House District 19.

The first draft of the redistricted map of Texas House districts.
The first draft of the redistricted map of Texas House districts. Credit: Texas Legislative Council

Other incumbent pairings under the House proposal involve a lawmaker who is either running for another office or has already announced their retirement.

In the Dallas-area House District 108, for example, state Rep. John Turner, D-Dallas, who would have to face off against state Rep. Morgan Meyer, R-Dallas, has already announced he will not seek another term to the lower chamber.

And in another North Texas race for House District 63, state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, who would have to compete against his colleague state Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Carrollton, is running for a seat in the Senate, while Beckley is vying for a spot in Congress.

This is the first time in decades federal law allows Texas to draw and use political maps without first getting federal approval to ensure that they’re not disenfranchising the voting rights of people of color. That federal preclearance requirement in the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Since the enactment of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Texas has not made it through a single decade without a federal court admonishing it for violating federal protections for voters of color.

Check back for updates.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/30/texas-house-redistricting-map/.

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