We hear some ridiculous things from people who have called to their representatives and senators and get fed a line of bull on why redistricting reform bills cannot be heard. If you've made a few calls, you've probably heard some of these too! We'll hit the TOP THREE below.
(1) The House/Senate bill sponsors need to schedule the hearings. INCORRECT. The House Committee on Redistricting and the Senate State Affairs Chairs must call the committee to meet and call the bills for discussion. ALL of the House bills sponsors have requested hearings and they are all pending Rep Burkett, House Chair of Redistricting. Representative Burkett has the right and responsibility to call the committee into hearing and which bills will be called to the agenda. As a side bar: we've been collecting witnesses to testify on behalf of HJR 32/HB 369 since February 23.
(2) Congress draws Texas Congressional Lines. STRIKE TWO! In Texas, both congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn by the Texas State Legislature. These lines are subject to veto by the governor. Where maybe there's some purposeful blurring of the lines is the Article 1, Section 2, of the United States Constitution. It stipulates that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. There are 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives. Each state is allotted a portion of these seats based on the size of its population relative to the other states. Thus the 2020 census will determine what apportionment Texas will receive for Congressional representatives.
(3) The most recent Texas lawsuits around redistricting issues should be heard in Congress. NOPE! Regarding district lines drawn by the Texas Legislature whether they are Texas-legislative district or Congressional, that should be heard by the House Committee on Redistricting because THEY DREW THE DISTRICT LINES that were voted FOR by both houses of the Texas Legislature and approved by the Governor.
These two committees in the House and Senate have the right and responsibility for correcting district lines that violate the Voting Rights Act. They can take action in this 85th Legislative session. As of today (April 3), they have 35 days left to hear bills. They can enact redistricting reform now and just stop this whole ridiculous cycle.
When are the committees on having these hearings?
- House Committee on Redistricting hasn't been scheduled to meet. This is despite Rep Eric Johnson - the vice-chair on the committee- sending letters to Rep Burkett asking for her to schedule hearings.
- Senate State Affairs Committee has been meeting and as Texans, we're grateful for that. But, Senator Huffman hasn't scheduled the redistricting reform bill that address Congressional districts (SB209) to be heard. Here's the State Affairs agendas and minutes: http://www.legis.texas.gov/Committees/MeetingsByCmte.aspx…
If you feel so inclined to call their bull on this:
- Rep Burkett's offices: 512-463-0464 or (972) 278-7276
- Senator Huffman's offices: (512) 463-0117 or (281) 980-3500