Texas' Redistricting News
(February 26, 2001-June 30, 2001)

 The Associated Press: "Perry: 'Negative vibes' make special session unlikely." June 30, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." June 4, 2001
 Austin American-Statesman: "Map idea links Central, West Texas." May 27, 2001
 Austin American-Statesman: "Debate on redrawing districts isn't over." May 26, 2001
 National Journal Group: "Off to the Races; Redistricting Big Talk." May 22, 2001
 Express-News Austin Bureau: "High stakes, close split heat up remap battle." May 14, 2001
 Associated Press: "One redistricting lawsuit thrown out; Hispanic groups offer plan." April 26, 2001
 Associated Press: "Governor More Reserved Than His Party on Redistricting Plan." April 26, 2001
 Associated Press: "Republican Districts See Greatest Population Gain." March 14, 2001
 Los Angeles Times: "Deep in the Heart of Texas, the Popular Destination is Suburbia." March 13, 2001
 Associated Press: "Census data arrives in Texas." March 12, 2001
 Roll Call: "Between The Lines (excerpt)." February 26, 2001
 Associated Press: "Government preparing to tell Texas about Texans." February 26, 2001

More recent redistricting news from Texas

 

The Associated Press
Perry: 'Negative vibes' make special session unlikely
June 30, 2001

Gov. Rick Perry said Friday he's getting "negative vibes" on legislators' ability to craft a congressional redistricting plan, further dimming the chances he'll call a special session.

Perry reiterated his stance that he won't call a special session unless lawmakers believe they can work out an agreement on the once-a-decade redrawing of political boundaries.

If not, it will be up to the courts to draw part of the state's political map.

"I'm getting negative vibes. Negative vibes about being able to get a plan that could be agreed to," Perry said. "Unless it's a very clear indication from leadership on both sides that we can get a plan that can go forward, I have no interest in bringing legislators into Austin for an exercise in futility."

Perry said he wants to keep talking with acting Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, a Republican, and House Speaker Pete Laney, a Democrat.

"We will not waste taxpayers' money on a special session if we can't feel a very clear positive ending," Perry said.

Redistricting is done every 10 years when new census figures come out. Lawmakers are charged with redrawing state and congressional maps as well as the boundaries for the state Board of Education.

Lawmakers failed to reach consensus on any of those issues in the regular session that ended May 28.

The Republican-controlled Legislative Redistricting Board has assumed control of mapping out the state legislative districts. Ratliff and Laney are both on the five-member panel.

Ratliff said he knew when the session started it would be difficult to get a plan out of the Senate, where Republicans hold a 16-15 majority. Any plan would have needed two-thirds approval from the senators.

Without a plan from state lawmakers for the congressional districts, Perry said he'd leave it up to the courts. Several lawsuits have been filed in state and federal court.

"If that's the case, it needs to go on to court and let the courts work on this and so the people of the state of Texas can know where these lines are going to be," Perry said.

The governor said he won't set any deadline for deciding on a special session.

Ratliff, however, said the courts may decide the deadline. A plan will have to develop in time for next year's primaries.

"The drop-dead date will depend on the courts and how long the courts will let us continue to discuss it before they decide they have to take it over," Ratliff said.

On The Net: Texas Legislative Council www.tlc.state.tx.u

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
June 11, 2001

Frost on Hold.

Although other House Democratic leaders have already neatly resolved their redistricting headaches back home, Democratic Caucus Chairman Martin Frost watched last week as a Texas remapping session fell apart in a contentious process that appeared to be headed for the courts.

That might not be such bad news for Frost, whose Fort Worth-based district ranks as a top GOP target in a process dominated, but not solely controlled by, Lone Star Republicans.

After several weeks of talks in Austin and D.C., the state's divided Legislature adjourned May 28 without adopting a new House map. Indeed, for the first time in at least 50 years, the Legislature went home without adopting any of the four redistricting plans they are constitutionally required to put together.

A state House committee, chaired by state Rep. Delwin Jones (R), passed a redistricting plan May 26 that aimed to protect incumbents and draw the two new districts Texas gained in reapportionment into north Dallas and the valley in south Texas, a heavily Hispanic area. However, that plan died because the panel's vote came after the deadline for bringing a bill to the floor. The state Senate never approved a map.

Gov. Rick Perry (R) asked legislative leaders to continue working past the session on redistricting, saying he would only schedule a special session if a deal could be reached.

But some lawmakers said an agreement is unlikely unless the 17 Democratic and 13 Republican Members of the state's House delegation can negotiate a deal among themselves - something that has eluded them thus far. If Perry does not call a special session, the matter will move, as Frost has often predicted, to court.

"Frost, like everybody else, is waiting to see what happens," said Greg Speed, a spokesman for the lawmaker. "He's hopeful that the process will move forward and move forward soon because Texas has a very early filing deadline. And this process is running up against that deadline." One of the first in the country, the deadline is in early January 2002.

Targeted by Republicans who run the Missouri Senate, Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D) nonetheless emerged with an even stronger Democratic base in his St. Louis-area district.

Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.) opted out of his state's remap process, announcing last month that he would run for governor rather than endure a round of redistricting run by his GOP foes.

Austin American-Statesman
Map idea links Central, West Texas
Laylan Copelin
May 27, 2001

What does Williamson County have in common with Big Bend and El Paso? A member of Congress, if Lubbock Rep. Delwin Jones, head of the House Redistricting Committee, has his way. Except for a sliver of the county that is home to Mike Krusee, a state representative and rumored congressional candidate, most of Williamson County would share a congressional seat with a whole lot of West Texas. Jones said splitting Williamson County was necessary to balance his statewide plan for Congress, and it is a coincidence that Krusee's neighborhood is in the same district as incumbent U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith's district.

Although Jones' plan will go nowhere, the House Redistricting Committee approved it 9-6, largely along partisan lines. Jones, a Republican who has sponsored redistricting plans largely supported by Democrats and allies of Speaker Pete Laney, said his plan would give the Legislature a head-start if the governor calls a special session.

Others speculated that the map would end up as evidence in a court fight. Under Jones' plan, western Travis and Hays counties would be in Smith's San Antonio district. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, would represent eastern Travis County. Most Republicans dismissed Jones' map as irrelevant. "The whole county went to El Paso, but my house went to Bexar," Krusee said. "I think what was done to Williamson County is the most egregious example of partisan gerrymandering in this plan."

Austin American-Statesman
Debate on redrawing districts isn't over
Laylan Copelin
May 26, 2001

As state leaders sifted through the ashes of redistricting Friday, they tried to decide what paths they will take to resolve the state's political future for the next decade. Gov. Rick Perry has asked Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff and House Speaker Pete Laney to determine whether state lawmakers, who failed to draw their own political districts, could realign the state's population into 32 congressional districts in a special session. Ratliff was not hopeful Friday that a special meeting of the Legislature could deal with the congressional issue. The Legislature will adjourn Monday.

The state Senate is controlled by Republicans. Democrats dominate the Texas House. And the Texas delegation to the U.S. Congress would be looking over state lawmakers' shoulders the whole time. "That's an extraordinarily difficult circumstance," Ratliff said. "But I'm more than willing to let a group of members try to assess that prospect. I wouldn't venture what the odds are of being successful." If Perry decides that a deadlocked Legislature can't draw congressional plans, he could do nothing and wait for someone to ask the courts to do the job.

University of Texas government professor Bruce Buchanan said the public is better served if the Legislature at least tries. "The State of Texas looks better to the voters and to the courts if it deals with it and doesn't punt," he said. Even if the Senate and House gave the courts two different maps for Congress, the courts would have a starting point, Buchanan said.

A court might not want to begin with a blank page and would order the Legislature to take a try. Meanwhile, five state leaders who make up the Legislative Redistricting Board began discussing how to pick up the pieces of the plans for state lawmakers. Last week, a dozen Senate Republicans blocked redistricting for the Legislature, saying the plan before them was not Republican enough.

Unlike the congressional redistricting, state lawmakers don't get a second chance to do their own districts in a special session. Instead, the job falls to Attorney General John Cornyn, Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, Laney and Ratliff. Laney is the only Democrat. The board will convene when three of the five agree to start. They elect their own chairperson.

On Friday, the members talked to one another individually. The five already disagree on how soon the board should begin. By law, the board has up to 90 days to convene and then 60 days to complete its work. Laney favors August. Ratliff said he would like some time to educate himself on the complexities of redistricting. However, Cornyn, Rylander and Dewhurst favor a quick timetable.

One scenario being discussed is that the board would meet June 5 and lay out a six-week schedule. "I don't think it's fair to good candidates, whether Republican or Democrat, not to know what districts they are running in," Dewhurst said. He argued that if the board takes the full 150 days and then a U.S. Justice Department review consumes 90 days, the plan would run past the January filing deadline for people seeking office. But if Perry calls a special session, Laney is concerned about the board meeting at the same time state lawmakers are voting on congressional districts.

"We need to see what the governor is going to do with congressional (redistricting)," Laney said. Laney said he is concerned about the perception of trading votes as state lawmakers, whose political futures are being decided by the board, are asked to vote on congressional maps. Rylander and Dewhurst dismissed that concern. "I take this constitutional challenge very, very seriously," Rylander said. "I want to be a statesman in this role." While redistricting is the ultimate act of self-preservation for legislators, Cornyn said that once the board or court takes over, the emphasis changes.

While Republican Party leaders are chafing to dominate the Legislature as they dominate the statewide offices, Cornyn said the success of the board is whether it can draw a plan that can be defended successfully in court. As the state's top lawyer, Cornyn has the dual role of voting on a map and then defending it in court. "This is not just a political process," he said. "It's a legal process. No matter how much you want to draw lines to help your political party, it must clear the Justice Department and the courts."

Cornyn said the board is not required to use the Legislature's maps, especially since none passed both chambers, but that the board should consider all the evidence before it. He also expects public testimony and maps from groups outside the Legislature. He said the board will follow the open meetings law. "For public confidence, it needs to be a transparent process," he said. The lobbying already has begun. Leland Ellis, the 2-year-old son of Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, handed Rylander a map of his father's district when she visited the Senate on Friday. "Senator Ellis said, 'I'm shameless,' " Rylander quipped. "Senator Ellis knows how to get to this grandma."

 National Journal Group
Off to the Races; Redistricting Big Talk
Charlie Cook
May 22, 2001

Once you get past all the big talk about redistricting by both parties, whether Republicans come up with big gains may well come down to just one state. In a midterm election, presidential job approval carries more weight than the new lines. Putting aside the seven states that have only one district -- and therefore no redistricting -- not one map has been finalized; indeed, the process has not started in many states. But still, based on the reapportionment of districts among the 43 states with two or more House seats, population trends, the redistricting process and which party has the clout in that process, certain educated guesses can be made.

It can be plausibly argued that Republicans can pick up at least one seat in each of eight states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Democrats can just as reasonably pick up two seats in California and one seat in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia. Note that in Arizona and Georgia, it looks likely that each party will pick up one seat. Then there are the possible losses. A good guess today suggests that Democrats will lose three seats in Pennsylvania, two seats in Michigan and one seat each in five states: Illinois, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Conversely, Republicans could lose one seat each in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. Note that both sides are expected to lose a seat in New York.

Roughly speaking, this comes out a wash, or perhaps Republicans up by a seat. Then factor in Texas. Depending upon whom you talk to, the Texas redistricting plan from 10 years ago was either a shocking massacre for Republicans or very fair -- to Democrats. For example, in last year's elections, while Republicans won 49 percent of the votes for Congress statewide to 47 percent for Democrats, Democrats won 17 seats, or 57 percent of the state's congressional seats, as opposed to 13 (43 percent) for the GOP.

At the very least, it was a plan that was very kind to incumbents of both parties, with Democrats having many more incumbents than Republicans. So even if the state did not change a bit, Republicans might plausibly be expected to gain some. Then consider the fact that the state is becoming more Republican. Finally, 10 years ago, Democrats controlled the governorship and both state legislative chambers.

Today, the GOP has the governorship and the state Senate. Since Texas picks up two new seats, a middle-of-the-road outcome would be Republicans winning both new seats and taking another away from Democrats, giving Republicans plus three for the state, and Democrats minus one. This would create a delegation split 16-16, pretty close to the aggregate congressional vote -- compared to the 17 Democratic and 13 Republican seats of today.

If, however, Republicans get some breaks, either through the state legislative/gubernatorial redistricting process or in the courts (at this point, it looks likely that the map will end up in the courts), the chances of Republicans scoring larger gains are certainly there. Arguably, if Republicans score the 10-or-more-seat redistricting gain that some GOP partisans are talking up, a bunch of those seats would have to come out of Texas.

A number of caveats are in order. First, the process is still young, and many different plans are being considered. Second, sometimes the majority party can get too greedy in a state, trying to pick up too many seats and slicing each district so thinly that in the end, it loses seats. Many maps are likely to be thrown into the courts with the make-up of, let's say, a three-judge panel critical to whether the plan is balanced or tilted to one party or the other. Third, the true impact of redistricting often is not apparent for several elections, with the circumstances of one election potentially masking the redistricting consequences for the first election under the new lines. But over time, the districts revert to type.

Finally, while redistricting is certainly going to be very important for 2002, it won't necessarily be the most important thing. W hen top redistricting experts from both parties were asked to predict the outcome of the 2002 House races and had a choice between seeing the final redistricting maps for the entire country and President Bush's job approval numbers nationwide, both experts, without hesitation, said they would rather see the president's job numbers. The redistricting map well may be the more important factor determining who will control the House for much of the next decade. But in a midterm election, presidential job approval carries more weight than the new lines.

Express-News Austin Bureau
High stakes, close split heat up remap battle
Bob Richter
May 14, 2001

Before Rep. Rick Hardcastle went to the House floor to view the debate on redistricting, he went to the Texas State Cemetery to visit the grave of his old friend and House colleague Ronnie Crownover, who died last year of leukemia. Amid the graves of Texas heroes, Hardcastle came up with a fence-mending speech. "I realized that those boys laid down their lives so we could do this," he said. Hardcastle was the first speaker in the redistricting debate last Monday. Here's part of what he said: "This has been the most partisan session Texas has ever seen. Each one of us has the passion that we're on the right side. Don't let the other stuff guide our decisions or get in the way."

The humble, ordinarily quiet Republican rancher-legislator from Vernon got a standing ovation, and the tone of the debate did begin with a spirit of good feeling. "It lasted until about 4 p.m.," he joked later. The debate turned rancorous and ended about 11 p.m. with fault lines exposed between Republicans and Democrats; rural representatives and urban ones; men and women; and blacks, Hispanics and Anglos. Perhaps Hardcastle never had a chance. Gov. Rick Perry called Republicans to the Governor's Mansion on Monday morning for a predebate pep talk, where he urged them to do battle, evoking images from the movie "Gladiator." Certainly, tight money, long hours, narrow Democratic-Republican splits in both houses and the once-a-decade redistricting issue are making this one of the testiest House sessions in a long time.

The Senate version of the redistricting battle opens this week, possibly today, and promises to be just as personal, just as divisive. During hearings last week to simply lay out amendments, Dallas Democrats attacked a substitute plan offered by Waco Republican David Sibley, and Democrats Eddie Lucio, Carlos Truan and Judith Zaffirini debated angrily about how to remap the Rio Grande Valley. The 11-hour House debate last Monday ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. San Antonio freshmen Reps. Elizabeth Ames Jones, a Republican, and Mike Villarreal, a Democrat, argued over which one of them might represent the people of Olmos Park after new political boundaries are drawn.

Jones at one point told Redistricting Committee Chairman Delwin Jones that his map for Bexar County was "hogwash," and the 77-year-old Jones replied: "Being an old farm boy, I understand the term hogwash." Rep. Gene Seaman, R-Corpus Christi, inflated a life vest and put it on, joking that the Democratic redistricting map put 30 miles of water between his home voting precinct on Corpus Christi Bay and the rest of the district in which he must run in 2002 ˇ if he opts for re-election. Seaman, normally a dour man, seemed giddy ˇ the way some laugh in the face of impending disaster ˇ after a Republican substitute redistricting map was defeated and he joked about being the "poster boy" for a GOP legal challenge. And Rep. Frank Corte, R-San Antonio, stoked that fire. He said Perry is "getting pressure from Highland Park and the Dominion to Haskell, Texas" to veto the Democratic plan that passed May 7.

"This plan isn't fair," said Corte, who would be paired against Villarreal in a proposed new district that is heavily Hispanic and Democrat. "It doesn't reflect Texas' true identity." Dallas Democrat Domingo Garcia refused to support the Democrats' plan because it packed Hispanics into a single district while African-Americans had four districts. He said it left little hope for a political career for the "little Jos╚s and Marias" in his district. And Vilma Luna, D-Corpus Christi, voted against the plan because it cut out a Nueces County seat (Seaman's). As a result, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times praised her and denigrated Rep. Jaime Capelo, D-Corpus Christi, who voted for the Democratic plan.

"They tell me redistricting does that every time," Hardcastle said a few days later, adding: "The scars will heal over, but they are scars and will never go away." Bill Kidd, bureau chief of the Long News Service and dean of the Capitol press corps, agrees, but he disagrees that the 2001 redrawing of political boundaries is the most partisan ever. Kidd, who's covered four redistricting wars, says 1971 was the meanest.

"The labels have changed," he said, "but the underlying content is the same. Back then you just had Democrats" ˇ conservative Democrats and liberal Democrats. But in '71, he recalls, Rep. Curtis Graves, D-Houston, said House Speaker Gus Mutscher should be redistricted into Huntsville so he "could run from behind the walls where he belongs." Mutscher was later convicted of taking a bribe and never ran for office again.

Current House members, though, said last Monday's debate was the most partisan this session. And San Antonio Hispanics, all of them Democrats, objected to Republican claims that their alternative had more Hispanic seats than the Democrats' plan did. "Sure it gets personal when it affects your future," Rep. Jos╚ Men╚ndez, D-San Antonio said, calling the debate "more intense, more partisan" than the norm. He accused Republicans of trying to "destroy Democrats' greatest strength ˇ our diversity."

"We wouldn't want to be sold down the river by Anglo Democrats, and we don't want to do it to them," the former San Antonio city councilman said. "I hope (the Republicans are) sincere about reaching out to Hispanics. They weren't so sincere when they voted on hate crimes a few weeks ago," said Rep. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, in his third term. "I hope they still care when Medicaid simplification comes up. That affects a lot of Hispanic kids." By the end of last week, though, there were signs of healing. Conservative Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, cooed over Dominic Men╚ndez, Jos╚'s rambunctious 1-year-old, one night on the House floor. On another night, Uresti and Seaman linked arms and sang "Kumbaya" as the House clock moved from Thursday to Friday.

On Tuesday, the day after the great debate, a San Antonio priest, Father Jimmy Drennan, gave the invocation. His prayer said, in part: "As decisions are made today, especially those that will affect the redistricting of our state and the equal representation of our people, let them not be made for the benefit of Democrats or Republicans. "May you, our elected officials, rise to what you have been elected to be: agents of justice, justice for all." Earlier that morning, Drennan had breakfast with a parishioner, San Antonio freshman Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, and the priest's message seemed to have worked.

"There's no question there needs to be some healing," said the young Democrat, who has his own idea about that process: He is organizing a flag football game on the University of Texas campus Thursday night for House members only. It won't be Democrats vs. Republicans; it will be nonpartisan. One big difference: The final score will be clear Thursday. It may be years before the score is settled in redistricting.

The Associated Press
One redistricting lawsuit thrown out; Hispanic groups offer plan
Kelley Shannon
April 26, 2001

Two lawsuits challenging Texas' redistricting plans were thrown out of federal court in Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general said Thursday. A three-judge panel found that the Texas Legislature had not had the opportunity to act on a redistricting plan and that the plaintiffs could file another lawsuit later if they believe their voting rights are threatened. Dorothy M. Lee of Tyler and Molly Woods of Polk County filed one of the cases. Lee said in a telephone interview that she hadn't heard about the ruling. ``They might have thrown that case out, but it's not over yet,'' she said. Lee said she became a plaintiff in the lawsuit because she didn't want to lose her state representatives, both of whom are Democrats.

The other lawsuit that was dismissed was filed by Smith County residents J.B. Mayfield, Roy Stanley and Phyllis Cottle in Marshall federal court. Texas Attorney General John Cornyn said the dismissals will allow the Legislature to do its job, free from interference from the courts. ``My responsibility is to protect the Legislature's right to perform this important duty,'' Cornyn said. ``We filed similar motions in other pending cases and are optimistic they too, will be dismissed.'' First Assistant Attorney General Andy Taylor argued on behalf of the state that the lawsuits _ filed before redistricting plans are finalized by the Legislature _ are an effort to manipulate the political system. The plaintiffs were trying to have a ``placeholder'' for a future legal battle, Taylor said.

Redistricting is the redrawing of political boundaries once a decade after new census figures are released. The Texas Legislature comes up with redistricting plans for its two chambers, the Texas congressional delegation and the State Board of Education. Another redistricting lawsuit was filed in federal court this month by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. MALDEF is one of three Hispanic voter groups that unveiled a Texas House redistricting plan Thursday they say ensures stronger representation for the fast-growing Latino population. Seven new majority Hispanic districts are contained in the proposal in addition to the 28 created during 1990 redistricting.

The plan will ``give Latinos in Texas a fair shot at electing their candidates of choice,'' said Nina Perales, staff attorney for MALDEF. MALDEF, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the William C. Velasquez Institute were submitting the plan to the House Redistricting Committee. The committee already has drafted a working plan that the Hispanic advocates say doesn't take into account all the increases in the state's Latino population. ``What the plan does not do is completely account for the Latino growth in Texas over the decade and create the seats that we would like to see,'' Perales said.

Hispanics now make up 28.6 percent of the state's voting age population and 32 percent of the state's population. They accounted for 60 percent of the state's growth over the past decade. The seven new majority Hispanic districts contained in the Hispanic groups' plans include three that became majority Latino since 1990 and four others that would be newly created districts. That would bring to 35 the number of majority Hispanic House districts out of 150 total districts. The three districts that became Hispanic are in the Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth areas, Perales said.

The four proposed new majority Hispanic districts are in Travis, Harris and Dallas counties and in South Texas covering Willacy County and parts of Cameron and Hidalgo counties. The plan calls for a Hispanic ``influence'' district that would include much of the city of Odessa, where Latinos could have a substantial influence in an election. ``You cannot overestimate the importance of redistricting,'' said Vincent Ramos, executive director of Texas LULAC. The plan submitted by the Latino advocates is ``fair, equitable and progressive,'' he said.

Associated Press
Governor more reserved than his party on redistricting plan

Kelley Shannon
April 26, 2001

Gov. Rick Perry warned Wednesday that it's ``way premature'' to say whether he would veto proposed redistricting plans pending in the Legislature. His party, however, isn't holding back its opinions, especially on a Texas House proposal. The Republican Party of Texas launched an online petition drive that opposes the current map and asks lawmakers to create ``fair and compact districts.''

The House plan was made public Monday, and Perry said he had not yet seen it. He noted that the plan will likely undergo several changes before it reaches its final form. ``I think it'd be highly premature to make a decision about a bill that I suspect is going to be very flexible relative to what it's going to look like by the time it gets on the governor's desk. Way premature,'' he said.

 Redistricting is the redrawing of political boundaries once a decade after new census figures are released. The Texas Legislature comes up with redistricting plans for its two chambers, the Texas congressional delegation and the State Board of Education. If the governor vetoes the state House and Senate redistricting plans, the Republican-controlled Legislative Redistricting Board steps in to oversee the process. Republican Party chairman Susan Weddington contends the House map as drawn by the chairman of the House Redistricting Committee Republican Rep. Delwin Jones  is a ``thinly veiled attempt to protect the career of Speaker Pete Laney'' and other incumbents. Laney is a Democrat. For months, Weddington has expressed her hope of one day having a Republican speaker of the Texas House.

The Democrats hold a 78-72 advantage in the House, while Republicans have a 16-15 edge in the Senate. Weddington said Republicans should be better represented in the Texas Legislature, but that the proposed House plan wouldn't achieve that. ``Speaker Laney is once again attempting to deny the political voice of Texas voters in order to protect the political careers of incumbent politicians,'' Weddington said. Laney's spokesman did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press for comment. Jones has described his proposal as ``a fair and a legal plan.'' Texas Democratic Party chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm said her party is urging the Legislature to focus on fairness. The party isn't criticizing the House plan.

``Redistricting is a difficult process and inevitably some people will be unhappy with the final product. But it's way too early to be jumping to conclusions. There's a lot of work still left to do,'' Malcolm said. The Texas Senate plan also has drawn some criticism from the Republican Party. The Senate redistricting map also was crafted by a committee led by a Republican, Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio. Court challenges of the redistricting plans are expected. Both the House and Senate redistricting chairmen have defended their proposals as adhering to legal guidelines.

Associated Press
Republican Districts See Greatest Population Gain
By Suzanne Gamboa
March 14, 2001

Eight of Texas' top 10 fastest growing congressional districts in the past decade belonged to Republicans. Rep. Dick Armey's suburban Dallas district topped the list with a 29.76 percent increase that raised its total population to 845,541. The state's congressional delegation has 17 Democrats and 13 Republicans. It will grow by two because of the state's population increase. The numbers from the 2000 census will be analyzed by party officials and consultants to decide how to redraw congressional lines.

Already Tuesday, Democrats and Republicans were using them to foretell who would survive the redistricting battle. An ideal congressional district has a population of 651,000. Lines will be redrawn by state lawmakers. Census numbers show the two new congressional seats are likely to be created in the north Dallas area and possibly in Central or South Texas. But to make room for the new seats, state lawmakers probably will redraw the lines of other districts. "In reality every one of the seats in the state is going to be new," said Craig Murphy of the Arlington-based Murphy Group, a political consulting company that largely represents Republicans.

Other Republicans seeing large increases were Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano, whose district grew from 28.14 percent to 834,961, Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio, whose district grew 22.94 percent to 801,078 and Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugarland whose district grew 20.43 percent to 784,759. The Democratic seats in the top 10 belong to Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, whose district grew 21.41 percent to 791,117, and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa of Mercedes, whose district's population rose to 780,310, a 19.75 percent increase. Eight of the 10 districts that lost the most population were Democratic seats. Losing the most population was Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon, whose district spreads from the Panhandle to near Wichita Falls. His district lost 54,218 people for a total 597,401.

Los Angeles Times
Deep in the Heart of Texas, the Popular Destination is Suburbia
Hector Tobar
March 13, 2001

The Lone Star State has become a place ever more divided by great stretches of highway and fortune, booming in both glitzy high-tech suburbs and ramshackle border colonias, while its old cattle towns lose people and influence. That, accompanied by a surge in Latino residents that surprised even Latino leaders, is the portrait of Texas that emerges from figures released Monday, among the first detailed numbers made public by the Census Bureau from its nationwide count of the American people.

Famous for all things big, Texas became really grande in the 1990s as only the second state to surpass 20 million people. And it added a staggering 2,018,310 Latino residents, a leap of 47% in a decade, making "Tejanos" nearly a third of the state's population. As such, the changes in Texas offer a preview of the likely census report on California due out next week. And they reflect national trends: The Census Bureau reported Monday that 3 in 10 Americans are now members of minority groups, mostly because of rapid growth in the country's Asian and Latino populations. For Texas, these big numbers are changing the political flavor:

The growth concentrated in its suburbs promises to boost the Republicans' ascendancy across the state. At the same time, it puts great pressure on the state and its local governments to educate and house and provide basic infrastructure for the swelling communities. Latinos became the largest ethnic group in the state's two largest cities, Dallas and Houston, for the first time. "There are, in a sense, two Texases now," said Steve Murdock, director of the Texas State Data Center. "Just like there's two nations." Demographers predict that as early as 2005, whites will no longer be a majority in Texas and that the state will become the fourth with no ethnic or racial majority. The others are California, New Mexico and Hawaii.

The suburban version of the new Texas can be found in the outskirts of Houston, Dallas and Austin, where many cities have doubled or tripled in population over the last decade, growth fueled in part by the success of computer companies such as Dell, Compaq and Texas Instruments. The population of the Austin suburb of Cedar Park, for example, increased by more than 400%. And Sugar Land, a teeming suburb built on former horse pastures and sugar cane fields outside Houston, helped drive a 57% leap in the population of surrounding Fort Bend County. "And it's not going to stop any time soon," said Louis Garvin of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. "We're building the elementary schools, the middle schools and the high schools just as fast as we can." Fort Bend County also has a satellite campus of the University of Houston in the works.

Sugar Land, once the center of vast cane plantations, now draws thousands of baby boomers each year to a cookie-cutter landscape of wide residential streets and faux ranch homes built around artificial rivers and lakes. Billboards advertise new housing developments with names like "First Colony" and "New Territory." Others tout the future site of "the cool, new Sugar Land Town Square," the city's new downtown, to be built completely from scratch on what is now pasture. "It's just unbelievable," Garvin said of the growth. "If we can keep pouring enough concrete to build the freeways, we'll keep the people coming out there." Rising from another green pasture is the 2-week-old Wal-Mart Supercenter, where twentysomething Alex Morales has his first-ever job as a cashier.

"Everything here is brand new," he said, referring to the hangar-sized store. Around the fringes of Sugar Land are a few surviving symbols of the old Texas: scattered horse farms and the towering silos of the Imperial Sugar mill, looming over yet another cluster of new homes. Despite a recent boom in its Oil Patch, the slow decay of rural Texas is plain to see in the population figures released Monday.

In all, 28 of Texas' 254 counties lost population in the last decade. The overwhelming number of those counties, said Murdock of the state data center, were in rural west Texas in the state's panhandle region. Pampa, east of Amarillo in the panhandle, lost 56% of its population. State Rep. Delwin Jones of Lubbock expects rural Texas will lose five seats in the 150-member Legislature when the committee he chairs begins to draw new district boundaries later this month.

When Jones was first elected to the state's House of Representatives back in 1965, "it was basically a rural Legislature," he said. Now it's dominated by big-city politicians. And Jones, elected as a Democrat, has since become a Republican. Houston and Dallas seem likely to gain state and local districts in their Latino neighborhoods. In Harris County, which makes up most of metropolitan Houston, Latinos displaced blacks as the largest minority group. The 47% surge in the Latino population caught many Latino leaders by surprise.

 "We're already under siege for services," said Gilbert Moreno of the Houston-based Assn. for Advancement of Mexican Americans. "We're the largest provider of adult literacy services in the city and we're out of room. It makes you wonder how we will continue to serve a population that is growing at an unprecedented rate."

Growth was even faster in traditionally Latino communities along the Texas-Mexico border. Laredo, founded in 1755, is at once one of the oldest communities in the United States and one of its fastest-growing. Figures released Friday showed the Laredo metropolitan area had grown 45% since 1990. Throughout Texas, much of the growth is made up not just by Latino immigrants, but also by millions of domestic migrants, including many transplanted Californians, demographers say. "I wasn't born in Texas," reads one popular bumper sticker, "but I got here as fast as I could."

Texas will gain two seats in Congress. Most observers agree at least one of the new seats will be carved out of the suburbs north of Dallas--a place analogous to California's Inland Empire, which is expected to be the site of the Golden State's one additional congressional seat. The second Texas seat may be carved along the corridor between Austin and San Antonio, or perhaps along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley. In all likelihood, the seats will be won by Republicans. *

The Associated Press
Census data arrives in Texas
March 12, 2001

Texas has received its detailed population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, an official at the Texas State Data Center at Texas A&M University said Monday. The governor's office would not immediately confirm receipt of the figures. The data center helps process the census results for the Legislature's use to redraw political boundaries. The material includes data on population changes in Texas' 254 counties and thousands of cities, plus breakdowns of the state's racial and ethnic composition. It was not immediately known when the 2000 census figures would be made public. The figures were expected to show a state of 20.9 million people continuing to grow more suburban and Hispanic.

Previously released figures already cemented Texas' status as the second-largest state, surpassing New York. State lawmakers immediately will begin analyzing the numbers as they redraw districts for U.S. Congress, the Legislature and state Board of Education. One task will be to add two new congressional districts, which likely will be shoehorned near metropolitan areas.

The biennial Legislature's regular session ends May 28, though lawmakers can go into special session to draw congressional lines. If the state House and Senate cannot meet the deadline for redrawing their own districts, a board comprised mostly of Republican statewide officeholders will take over. "And nobody wants that," said Rep. Delwin Jones, a Lubbock Republican and chairman of the House Redistricting Committee.

The next congressional and legislative general elections are in 2002. The information Texas officials has received comes from the government's actual headcount conducted last year. Commerce Secretary Don Evans determined those results were more likely to be accurate than statistically adjusted data designed to compensate for undercounts.

However, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates it missed 3.3 million people nationwide, mostly minorities, after performing statistical sampling. It gave no state-by-state undercount estimates. Undercounted areas stand to lose political clout and federal aid dollars. Border cities and metropolises like Houston and Dallas believe the 1990 undercount cost them millions of dollars.

Roll Call
Between The Lines (excerpt)
John Mercurio
February 26, 2001
 
Saying they have been underwhelmed by eight-term Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) constituent service, a group of mayors in Barton's Fort Worth-area district are lobbying state lawmakers to redraw their towns into the nearby district of Rep. Kay Granger (R). Barton, who serves as the House GOP's redistricting liaison to Austin, Texas, appears to condone the move as a way to increase Republican strength in Granger's potentially competitive district. "Certainly he would want to help in doing that," said Barton spokeswoman Samantha Jordan.
 
 The anti-Barton move was started this month by Watauga Mayor Hector Garcia, who mailed a letter to legislators "respectfully requesting" that they include Watauga, a heavily Republican town in Barton's district, within the new lines that will be drawn for the district of Granger, herself a former Fort Worth mayor.
 
"Several times when we call Joe Barton, we've never even gotten an answer," Garcia last week told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He's not covering us. We just don't get any help." Other mayors have joined the effort, despite a bit of concern that Barton might seek some form of revenge if their movement fails. "But I had to stop and say, 'What kind of risk am I taking from someone I haven't seen or heard from in six years?'" Haltom City Mayor Nancy Watkins told the newspaper, referring to potential fallout.
 
"I've been in government six years, and I've yet to hear a word from Joe Barton. So when several of the mayors were talking about this, we decided we would try this approach." But Jordan said Barton was "surprised" by some of the mayors' sentiments because he "certainly has made an effort to be available to everyone." She said their discontent stems from the "very bizarre" shape of Barton's district."We have one of the most screwy districts in the country," she said. " People can live next door to each other and not be in the same district. There are cities that we represent very little of, and some of them are included in this effort. Barton doesn't get to them as often."
 
Sampling Spat in the Garden State
 
To sample or not to sample is the question being debated in New Jersey these days as state lawmakers prepare to redraw the state's 13 House districts. New Jersey is scheduled to be one of the first states to conduct its remap. The state's GOP-controlled Assembly narrowly approved a bill along party lines in June mandating that the state's redistricting commission use the raw census head count, not statistical sampling, to redraw the state's districts. But the census bill has stalled in the state Senate, blocked by former Senate President Donald DiFrancesco (R), who has since become acting governor and is vying this year for the GOP nomination to run for a full four-year term as governor. DiFrancesco said he held the measure at the request of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R), who resigned last month to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and that he would continue to keep it on hold "until it is a moot point. ... We want this to be an inclusive party."
 
However, last week DiFrancesco reopened the debate by saying he prefers " real" census numbers and would sign an anti-sampling bill if the Legislature passes one. "Until there's a consensus on the issue of sampling, I'm guided by what the Legislature wants to do, and the Legislature so far wants to use the real numbers," he said during a press conference. His remarks prompted Democratic legislative leaders to cry foul and accuse DiFrancesco of reversing his opinion on the issue.
"Without sampling, New Jersey will have thousands of additional residents in urban legislative districts who will be denied their constitutional right to fair representation both in Congress and in the legislature," said state Senate Minority Leader Richard Codey (D) in a statement.
 
All Rhoads Lead to Vegas 
 
A key Republican in Nevada has drafted a redistricting plan that could spell big trouble for Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) by dividing her Las Vegas base and forcing her to run in the state's rural reaches. State Sen. Dean Rhoads (R) recently submitted a plan to the Legislature that would require all three members of the state's next House delegation to represent a wide geographical mix of urban and rural constituents.
 
Under Rhoads' plan Nevada would be largely divided by three vertical lines that each include the state's vast rural northern reaches as well as parts of Las Vegas-based Clark County, a Democratic stronghold. One district would run from Las Vegas up through western Nevada to Washoe County. The second district would run from Las Vegas through central Nevada and then west toward Washoe. The third would run from Las Vegas up eastern Nevada toward Ely. It would then take a sharp left, head west and end in Washoe County, including much of northern Nevada.
 
"I think a person that represents Nevada shouldn't just live in Las Vegas and not understand the problems in the rest of the state," he said. One flaw with the rural-urban districts, which even Rhoads has acknowledged, is that there would be the potential for all three House Members to be from populous Clark County, since the districts would each have a piece of the Las Vegas area. Berkley is drawing help, however, from Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus (D) , who opposes the Rhoads plan. "All the districts should be at-large if you want to follow that rationale," Titus said. Berkley, who has urged redistricting agents to try to confine her district to mostly urban areas, could not be reached last week for comment.
 
For the Record
 
Census Director Ken Prewitt publicly scolded Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.) last week for "distorting" his remarks on statistical sampling during a subcommittee hearing. During a Feb. 14 hearing of the Government Reform subcommittee on the census, where Miller serves as chairman, Republicans circulated a quotation attributed to Prewitt in which he appeared to question the accuracy of the census. In a two-page letter dated Feb. 20, Prewitt criticized Miller for his " misleading use of statements I did not make or statements made but taken out of context. "I respectfully request that you do not misquote me or misrepresent my position in order to score points in a hearing," he wrote. "I have never represented your views other than carefully and honestly, and I deserve the same respect."



Associated Press

 

Government preparing to tell Texas about Texans
Mark Babineck
February 26, 2001
 
Texans are about to find out who they are, where they live and why it all matters. The U.S. Census Bureau will release next month the first batch of detailed results from the 2000 national head count. The figures will explain exactly where Texas' 20,851,820 residents were living last year and identify them by race and ethnicity. Once they receive the numbers and spend a week crunching them by computer, legislators will try to redraw lines for districts in the U.S. Congress, the state House and Senate, and the Board of Education. Redistricting is the census' first and, perhaps, most tangible result of the constitutionally mandated decennial tally.
 
Political boundaries of all kinds eventually will be reshaped based on the census, said Steve Murdock, chief demographer for the Texas State Data Center.
``It's obviously important in the political realm because they use the results for the redistricting of not only congressional seats, but basically every jurisdiction in the state will use these figures, from city councils, school boards, municipal utility districts, you name it,'' Murdock said. State Rep. Delwin Jones, R-Lubbock, said the Census Bureau has assured lawmakers that Texas will be among the first states to get its results. Jones, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, expects to have them before March 15.
 
Redistricting will be in the spotlight initially as the Legislature has until May 28 to reallocate seats. More subtle ramifications from the count likely will be seen later as government, businesses and charities use the statistics to make spending decisions on both short- and long-term projects. ``We use the numbers to be able to have an idea of the potential needs of the community down the road,'' said Patricia Rincon-Kallman, Houston's head of long-range planning.
 
``By doing trend analysis, we have an idea of where the influx of population is coming into the city.'' For instance, 2000 population density statistics might lead to a neighborhood's getting a new park. Or undercounting could cost an area a needed health clinic or improved transportation. The government has not announced whether it will release adjusted figures, using statistical sampling to correct counting errors, alongside raw totals. Republicans typically favor actual counts, while Democrats usually support sampling because minorities and other traditional constituents tend to be left out.
 
If the government makes both sets available, Jones said, Texas redistricting will use official numbers, which are expected to be the raw results. However, adjusted totals might be useful for other purposes, such as city planning and corporate strategy. ``The sampling numbers probably would be helpful to us on a general trend basis,'' Rincon-Kallman said.
 
Organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund are keeping a sharp eye on the numbers. The group has called upon Commerce Secretary Don Evans, who oversees the Census Bureau, to release adjusted numbers for purposes of redistricting. ``Hispanics, blacks and Native Americans are some racial and ethnic groups who tend to be undercounted,'' said Nina Perales, staff attorney with MALDEF in San Antonio. ``Groups that tend to get missed are children, renters, urban populations and those with nontraditional addresses. That's why a lot of Hispanics or Latinos get undercounted.''
 
Despite the possibility of an undercount in Texas, any results are expected to show large gains among Hispanics, particularly in cities and the Rio Grande Valley. Suburban areas near the state's three largest population clusters _ Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio-Austin also are poised for big gains. Texas will get two additional congressional seats in redistricting, giving the Lone Star State 32 seats in the House.
 
Jones predicts that the new districts will be near Dallas and San Antonio-Austin, and expects Houston and the Valley will see increased representation at the expense of shrinking or stagnant areas. ``Rural Texas is going to lose,'' Jones said. Beginning in May and running through 2003, the Census Bureau will release more detailed results of its number crunching, much of it coming from the 53-question ``long form'' filled out by one in six Americans. Respondents were asked about everything from their commutes to home plumbing.
 


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