As per tradition, both chambers passed the other’s map without amendments. The proposals, which still require Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature to become law, will likely secure GOP control of the state Legislature for years to come — though Democrats and civil rights advocates have sworn to challenge them in court.
The 31-seat Senate map, for its part, may expand GOP control of the chamber. Republicans currently hold 18 of those seats, but the proposal could increase that number to 20.
The Texas House map, meanwhile, will primarily protect that chamber’s 150 incumbents but will also improve Republicans odds in a handful of Democratic-controlled districts.
Republicans could gain ground in Senate
The map will likely cost Democrats a North Texas seat currently held by Sen. Beverly Powell, D-Burleson, and make a blue-leaning district in the Rio Grande Valley more favorable to Republicans.
The current map includes 16 districts that former President Donald Trump, a Republican, won last year. The new map would expand that number to 19, flipping Powell’s district and two others held by GOP Sens. Joan Huffman of Houston and Angela Paxton of McKinney.
In South Texas, District 27 — currently held by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., a Brownsville Democrat who is not seeking re-election — voted for President Joe Biden by 15.7 points in 2020. The proposal shrinks that gap to 4.6 points.
While the political fallout is clear, Democrats and civil rights advocates have also voiced concerns that the map does not create any new majority-Hispanic or majority-Black districts, even though people of color drove 95 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade.
Latinos, who comprised roughly half of the 4 million-person increase, now nearly match the proportion of non-Hispanic white people in the Lone Star State. But the new Senate map maintains the seven districts where Hispanic Texans are the majority of the citizen voting age population and one district where Black voters are the majority.
The proposal includes 20 majority-white districts and three where there is no racial or ethnic majority.
Huffman, the chair of the Senate’s redistricting committee and author of the maps, has said she drew the districts “race blind.”
Powell’s district, which is currently contained within the boundaries of Tarrant County, would extend into redder, more rural areas with concentrations of white voters under the proposed changes. It’s a district where Hispanic, Black and Asian voters have banded together in the past to elect Democrats.
When the draft map was first released last month, Powell called the changes to her district a “direct assault on the voting rights of minority citizens in Senate District 10.”
“Under the Senate plan, growing Tarrant County minority communities have been surgically cracked apart into Anglo-controlled districts to prevent them from coming together to elect their candidate of choice,” she reiterated in a statement Friday.
House Democrats tried again this week to keep her district lines within the county, but several amendments to redraw District 10 were shut down. State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie and the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, tweeted afterward: “GOP, we’ll see you in court.”
Republicans protect incumbents in Texas House map
Democrats have made similar complaints about the Texas House map. The number of districts with a majority-Black citizen voting-age population will drop from seven to six, while majority-Hispanic districts would fall from 33 to 30. The number of white-majority districts, meanwhile, would jump from 83 to 89.
Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, and Texas Legislative Black Caucus Chair Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, each offered amendments during House debate that they said would have made the map more accurately reflect the state’s population, but Republicans rejected their proposals.
“The adopted state House plan splits communities of interest in key areas across the state and drastically undermines Texas’ massive minority population growth,” Turner said in a statement. “Texas House Democrats will continue to fight back against maps that disenfranchise voters, undermine communities of interest and deny Texans fair representation.”aside">
The new Texas House map will protect Republican control by shedding Democratic-leaning areas where the party has lost support and moving those to blue districts while shoring up red ones.
That give-and-take is evident in west Harris County where two red districts, represented by Republican state Reps. Mike Schofield of Katy and Lacey Hull of Houston, are redrawn to include red-leaning precincts from Democratic state Rep. Jon Rosenthal's nearby district; Rosenthal’s district will get blue-leaning areas now represented by the two Republicans.
As the state's demographics change, however, there are only so many reliably red areas from which to pull. That meant for some districts, the best Republicans could do was make changes to benefit incumbents.
For example, the Energy Corridor district represented by state Rep. Jim Murphy, a Republican who is not seeking re-election, would give up some GOP precincts to Hull. Former President Donald Trump won Murphy’s district by 4 percentage points in 2020, but under the new map, that margin would drop to 2 points.
The Legislature is also nearing the finish line on other redistricting maps, including one for the state Board of Education. House members approved the education map on Friday, but with one small amendment, sending it back to the Senate for a final OK.
The 15-member Board of Education, currently controlled by Republicans, decides on the curriculum and textbooks for Texas’ public schools.
The last proposal, which redraws the state’s congressional map and accounts for two new seats, is scheduled for a floor vote in the House on Saturday. It’s already passed the Senate.
Source : https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/New-district-maps-for-Texas-Senate-Texas-House-16536848.php1048