LRB Members Present Multiple Plans
The Legislative Redistricting Board (LRB) had its fourth meeting today, July 10, 2001. The board is responsible for redrawing the Senate and House of Representatives districts. If the 60 days deadline is not met, legislative redistricting will be taken up by the courts.
As they do every ten years, both chambers made efforts during the 77th Legislative Session to redraw their own districts, as well as those of Congress and the State Board of Education (SBOE), based on the 2000 U.S. Census figures. No plan passed in both chambers. Redistricting is one of the most partisan issues in the Legislature and the most challenged in the courts.
Attorney General John Cornyn is the chairman of the board. The other members include Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff, House Speaker James E. "Pete" Laney, Comptroller of Public Accounts Carole Keeton Rylander and General Land Commissioner David Dewhurst.
In today's meeting, members of the board presented their own redisticting plans, three for the Senate and two for the House. Amendments can be added to each of these plans. The public will have the opportunity to voice ideas and opinions about the maps in the next meeting. There could be an additional meeting after that, to give an opportunity to everyone that wants to offer their input.
Ratliff presented Plan 01150 for the Senate, a modification of the plan adopted by the Senate Redistricting Committee. This is also called the Wentworth Plan, named for the chairman of the committee. Ratliff says his plan reflects the state's partisan breakdown, with 58% of the Senate seats being Republican, and only splits 14 counties due to population.
Dewhurst presented Plan 01151 for the Senate, a plan he says reflects the changing face of Texas -more diverse, more urban and a definitive two-party state.
Rylander offered a partial plan for the Senate, saying she has not solved to her satisfaction the redistricting of West Texas.
Laney submitted Plan 1232 for the House, a modification of HB 150 approved by that chamber during session.
Finally, Cornyn presented Plan 01233 for the House of Representatives.
All the members said their plans comply with the Voting Rights Act requirements; draw districts that are compact and contiguous, preserve communities of interests, protect the majority/minority ratio, do not pack minorities and minimize the split of counties.
The Legislative Redistricting Board adjourned until 9 a.m. on July 16, when it will meet in a public hearing to hear testimony on the plans presented, with another meeting scheduled for July 24 for the formal adoption of its plan.The public can access the maps/plans using Internet Explorer, at the web site http://www.capitol.state.tx.us, then by clicking on Redistricting Information and then RedViewer.