AUSTIN, Texas - Texas will be receiving two additional congressional seats after census data showed massive growth in the state.
The third special legislative session is focused on redrawing district maps to fit in those seats and, as the controlling party, Republican lawmakers are looking to keep a powerful position.
According to recent reports, the Texas population has increased by around four million people over the past 11 years. This increase in population has led to two additional congressional seats for the state.
"Texas has happened to be growing faster than most other states so we added two seats and then states in the Northeast and Midwest actually lost representation," said Brian Smith with St. Edward's University.
With the additional seats, the State of Texas must redistrict to include those new spots. The controlling party, the Republicans, are in charge of it. Monday, the first draft of the new redistricting map was submitted and it included new districts in both Houston and Austin.
"One of the things is if a party is in charge of redistricting, they're going to draw it in their favor. A lot of states still retain partisan district redistricting and Texas is one of them, but when we look at what the Republicans are doing, they're using the redistricting process to make Republican-safe seats safer meaning they're increasing the Republicans in their district," said Smith.
Smith says Democrats will fight back calling these new redistricting maps unfair and a form of gerrymandering.
"The Democrats will sue and there will probably be civil rights legislation involved because when we think about redistricting, you cannot draw lines to intentionally harm racial and ethnic minorities and the Republicans, anytime you have a state that is majority minority, like Texas, you're going to face some of those challenges so this is the first cut as one that will probably go to a federal judge before all is said and done," he said.
The NAACP agrees calling this another example of "an anti-Black movement led by the state leadership":
"Austin-This is yet another example of an anti-Black movement led by the state leadership. In recent months, African Americans have had to witness the selections of conference committees by leadership (Senate) that excluded us – even as the issues decided by those committees involved us; we’ve had to abide hurtful statements from the leadership that it is the responsibility of Democrats (only) to address the COVID 19 pandemic among Black Texans; and we’ve had to endure the continued erasure of African American history from public schools by state leaders who have intentionally and wrongly mislabeled and politicized our history in this country as "critical race theory" to justify its elimination. The proposed map vastly diminishes the voting strength of minorities all around the State by either packing them into districts already electing minority candidates of choice or cracking them by pushing them into districts dominated by conservative White voters. As the State has garnered 2 new Congressional seats on the backs of its minority population, it has sought to put forth a proposed Congressional map that is clearly retrogressive."
"I think the most important thing to remember is this is only the very first cut. We're gonna see other maps being drawn by the political parties, legislators, the federal courts always get involved in Texas redistricting. It's as constant as gravity," said Smith.