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Calling all Texans!

You have seen or heard the news that some of the state's 36 congressional districts violate either the U.S. Constitution or the federal Voting Rights Act.  We need your help this week!

7 Days Left for the Texas Legislature to Hear Redistricting Reform Bills

That's right, just 7 days left to hear redistricting reform bills in the current Texas Legislative session.  While the session concludes with Sine Die on Monday, May 29, May 8 is the last day for House committees to file reports - or the bills 'die' in committee.

  • There are five bills proposing redistricting reform in both House and Senate:  HB 369 and HJR 32 (author:  Rep Howard), HJR 74 (author:  Rep Anchia), HJR 118 (author:  Rep Neave), SB 209 (author:  Sen West)
  • The House Committee on Redistricting and Senate State Affairs are the committees responsible for hearing bills that would end gerrymandering of Congressional (federal) and Legislative (state) districts.
  • The only House Committee that hasn't met this session is the House Committee on Redistricting!
  • This session will be the FIFTH session in a row when the House Committee on Redistricting hasn't met.
What can you do?  Make some calls, y'all!
  • House Committee on Redistricting Chairwoman:  Cindy Burkett
  • Senate Committee on State Affairs Chairwoman:  Joan Huffman

CALL TO ACTION for WEEK OF MAY 1

  • Call to ask WHY redistricting reform bills aren't being called to be heard in front of committee despite significant support from Texans who support either a bipartisan or indepedent redistricting commission to draw our political districts.  
  • House Committee on Redistricting Chairwoman:  Cindy Burkett
  • Senate Committee on State Affairs Chairwoman:  Joan Huffman
  • Call YOUR representative and senator to tell them to vote NO on HB 2221 and SB 949.  
  • The House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence voted favorably on HB 2221, the House companion bill to SB 949, which caps legal fees at $250,000 to reimburse successful challengers when Texas LOSES constitutional rights cases in voting district and school finance claims.
  • SB 949 is the Legislature's cowardly response to Texas being repeatedly found to have violated Texans' voting rights under the US Constitution. Basically, if there is a future ruling at the Supreme Court that adopts the Wisconsin standard for how much partisan gerrymandering is "too much," bringing a court case to challenge partisan gerrymandering in Texas will be all but impossible because the lawyers and experts who take those cases can't be paid if they win. If they WIN!

DeGerrymander Texas Lobby Day - April 20, 2017

Our first successful DeGerrymander Texas Lobby Day connected constituents to their elected officials to discuss ending gerrymandering and supporting redistricting reform.  With approximately 25 people in attendance, we visited the offices of Representatives Howard, Israel, Hinojosa, Dukes, E. Rodriguez, S. Davis, Larson, Workman, and Senators Watson, Creighton, Huffman, Campbell, and Whitmire.

A highlight for the group was delivering the printed results of a signed petition to Representative Cindy Burkett's office (chairwoman of the House Committee on Redistricting).  The petition, started February 2, 2017, had collected more than 5,085 signatures from Texans over over just a few short months.  The signatures represented 245 cities or 801 unique zip codes of Texans supporting the creation of an independent redistricting commission.  In essence, it was a giant box of signatures delivered to Representative Burkett!   A condensed version was presented to Senator Joan Huffman (Chairwoman, Senate State Affairs) to encourage her to call SB209 to a hearing.

  • Interesting tidbit:  Signatures from 40 states and 5 countries were accepted on the petition though not presented to either Representative Burkett or Senator Huffman.  Several of these signatures identified as Texas ex-pats who support an end to gerrymandering in Texas.

In the News

Thursday, April 27:  "Ahead of 2018, trial likely looms in Texas political map battle" (Texas Tribune, April 27)“At the end of the day, we’re going to get new political maps, and the court’s going to draw them.” That's Jose Garza, an attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, a lead plaintiff in the years-long challenge of the state’s political boundaries. Thursday, April 27, was a status call called by the Court for Texas to answer questions by the plaintiffs. "That order, Garza said, would likely include a target date for the trial, setting up the latest battle amid six years of wrangling — laced with confusion — over the state’s recently drawn maps. Attorneys on both sides Thursday suggested they could be ready in July or August."

"Local elections administrators say they need clarity by October to meet deadlines for sending out voter registration cards, and December is the filing deadline for candidates."

The unfortunate silver lining in this is that everyone involved with the case knows that whatever the court will correct, our state legislators, if left to their partisan redistricting commission ways, will screw these maps up again.

Delivering 5,085 signatures to Rep Cindy Burkett's Office on April 20, 2017