During this special session, the Legislature has a choice. We do not need to simply rubber stamp bad interim maps that fail to address the fact that 90% of Texas’s population growth in the last decade was African-American and Hispanic. We can fix these maps and keep Texas out of the courts.
My colleagues in the House have filed a variety of alternative plans that would address the intentional efforts of Republicans to disenfranchise minority voters in Texas. These plans serve as a reminder that the Legislature has a choice and must consider alternatives to the interim maps.
Passing these interim maps — which are based on intentionally discriminatory plans drawn during the 2011 legislative session — will only keep Texas in the Federal courts for the foreseeable future.
I filed HB 53, otherwise known as Plan C245, to address constitutional and Voting Rights flaws in the current interim congressional plan. HB 53 is identical to the plan Senator Watson is proposing in the Senate, which makes changes to Congressional districts in Central and South Texas.
Click here for a larger version of the map, shown above right.
Specifically, the Watson/Rodriguez plan restores a constitutionally protected congressional district anchored in Travis County, which was previously represented by Congressman Lloyd Doggett. This district was destroyed when the federal district court in San Antonio decided to temporarily adopt the 2011 legislatively passed CD25 into the interim plan. Six months later, the D.C. court ruled that this map disrupted a protected crossover district.
This map adds CD34 as a new Hispanic opportunity district in Central and South Texas, which would run from Nueces County to Bexar County. The map also reverses some of the intentional discrimination displayed in the drawing of CD20, including the removal of historic landmarks and economic generators from CD20.
Finally, Plan C245 also supports CD23 as a Hispanic opportunity district by making modest improvements to the interim maps, which had already improved from the legislatively passed version.
Republicans have argued that the Legislature is forced to choose between restoring a constitutionally-protected district in Travis County or maintaining Latino opportunity districts in South Texas. The Watson/Rodriguez Plan proves that we can do both.
This plan provides a minimally disruptive change to districts in Central and South Texas while meeting the requirements of the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. This plan does not make changes to Dallas or Fort Worth. However, that should not be construed as a suggestion that the interim maps are otherwise acceptable, as many of my colleagues have introduced alternatives to the interim maps in that region as well.
Failure to pass maps that accurately reflect our state’s minority population growth — without which we would have not gained any of the four Congressional seats added in 2011 — will simply land the State of Texas back in Federal court.
The basis of our democratic government relies on fair representation. It’s time for Texas to pass fair, Constitutional maps that accurately reflect our population.