AUSTIN, Texas - A new redistricting map is on the horizon for the state of Texas as members of the House and Senate plan to come together in a conference committee.
This comes as a result of an increase in state population that gives Texas two additional congressional seats, going from 36 to 38. "Texas is a growing state," said Brian Smith, political science professor at St. Edward’s University.
It is now up to Texas lawmakers to approve a new redistricting map to fit those two new seats. "What happens then is every state decides how is it that you're going to divide those seats up and because we have a lot of representation because we're a large state, it goes to this legislature, and it's done largely along party lines," said Smith.
The redistricting process is done every 10 years by the controlling party in the state based on new census data. In this case, the Republicans are the ones drawing up the map.
"Those two additional seats that were created by the population growth in the state, or essentially, their growth was due essentially to Hispanic growth. However, the Hispanic control of those districts was essentially eliminated by the redistricting plan," said Eddy Carder, assistant professor of Constitutional law, philosophy, and ethics at Prairie View A&M University.
Based on the map, Carder believes the Republicans went in with the plan to secure their control. "The Republicans essentially secured their grip on Texas politics for what is essentially the next 10 years via the redistricting maps and guidelines," he said.
The new map includes Austin as their own district when it was split up compared to previous years. Carder says this was more than likely done on purpose.
"It carved out the Democrats and gave them their own district with regard to the 37th district and it looks as though, on the face, that was a very gracious act on the part of the Republicans, but really the intention and the legislative motivation behind that was simply to prevent surrounding Republican areas from being in districts from being overtaken by Democratic growth in those areas," said Carder.
One thing political science experts can agree on is that once this map is passed, there will be lawsuits filed to fight it. For now, there will be a conference committee to hash out the final product before going to the governor’s desk for final approval.
"They will iron out the final details [in the conference committee]. What's going to come out of that committee is very much what we saw last night with a Republican edge of maybe plus two seats, and the new seats that Texas got most likely gone to the Republicans," said Smith.
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