New Texas district boundary lines underway, advocates concerned
The Texas State Legislature is working on redistricting, or drawing new district boundary lines that reflect the community.
This year, advocates say they are focused on making sure that district boundary lines are drawn fairly.
Members of the Fair Maps TX Coalition, a group advocating for equal political representation, are trying to get lawmakers to change the process of choosing boundaries in the first place.
“We wanted to have more public input hearings,” said Stephanie Swanson of the Fair Maps TX Coalition. “We wanted specifically to have those hearings after the census data comes back to the state.”
Still with no census data, Swanson says having hearings now doesn’t make sense. Advocates say boundary lines were created so that some politicians could win some elections.
The coalition is writing letters and demanding lawmakers write a report justifying how their maps ensure equal political representation. But in last week’s first legislative session, Swanson says one demand was denied.
Advocates are also asking for more time before maps are finalized.
Every congressional district in Texas must have the same amount of people, plus or minus five percent. Texas Senator José Menéndez (D-San Antonio), a senate redistricting committee member, says those guidelines have been manipulated.
“Unfortunately, what happens most of the times during redistricting, sometimes in order to protect incumbents, plans will be drawn where they have a few more people or a few less people to draw in the people it’ll take for them to win,” Menéndez said.
Swanson and Menendez are both concerned about repeating history after just two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas had created a boundary line that hurt minorities.
Menendez says they will continue to have hearings once they get census results - and that he will advocate for transparency through the process.
Dates for future public hearings have not been announced, but you can head to https://redistricting.capitol.texas.gov/ to check for future dates.