January 27, 2023

A panel of Texas senators will hold hearings this week on the state’s latest constituency maps.

However, the procedural step is unlikely to result in changes to policy boundaries adopted in 2021, said Senator Carol Alvarado, D-Houston.

“But here we are. We’re going to go ahead and expect the same outcome,” Alvarado said, noting that every senator would have to run for re-election in two years if lawmakers accepted new cards.

Beginning Wednesday and through the weekend, the six Senate special committee hearings on redistribution of districts will focus on the map that defines state Senate districts.

Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, recently said the Senate had a constitutional duty to re-accept the cards.

“I propose that the 88th Legislature revisit the Senate map … as a precautionary measure to ensure that the Legislature has fulfilled its duty of dividing the state into Senate districts in its first regular session following the publication of the 24th decade United States Census.” “, Huffman said from the Senate floor on January 11th.

The Texas Constitution established that: “The Legislature, at its first ordinary session after the publication of each decennial census of the United States, shall divide the state into Senate and representative districts.”

Normally this is not a problem for the Texas legislature. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Census Bureau didn’t release the data Texas needed for the redistribution until August 2021 — months after the state legislature’s regular session ended.

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

Alvarado told The Texas Newsroom Monday that Democrats warned the Republican majority not to pass the cards during a special session.

“We kept saying, ‘You can’t do this in a special[session]. It’s clearly in the Constitution here,’” the Houston Democrat said.

Huffman, the chair of the Senate redistribution panel, did not respond to a request for comment.

The maps approved by the Texas Legislature in 2021 have been the subject of controversy.

A duo of Democratic lawmakers and the Mexican-American Legislative Committee sued the state Claiming that the legislature maps violated the Texas constitution because it split counties that should otherwise remain whole.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice has challenged the cards claim they discriminate against Latino voters and other minority groups.

Alvarado said Democrats plan to table changes to the current maps, similar to the changes they pushed during the 2021 redistribution process.

“We tried to come up with changes that reflect Texas’ growth,” Alvarado said. “Ninety-five percent of Texas growth was based on ethnic growth, but still we saw some dilution of that in the maps.”

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