Texas Lawmakers Pass New Congressional Maps That Bolster GOP

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Republicans accredited on Monday redrawn U.S. House maps that favor incumbents and reduce political illustration for rising minority communities, at the same time as Latinos drive a lot of the expansion within the nation’s largest purple state.

The maps had been accredited following outcry from Democrats over what they claimed was a rushed redistricting course of crammed right into a 30-day session, and one which gave little time for public enter. They additionally denounced the discount of minority alternative districts ― Texas will now have seven House districts the place Latino residents maintain a majority, down from eight ― regardless of the state’s altering demographics.

“What we are doing in passing this congressional map is a disservice to the people of Texas,” Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia mentioned to the chamber simply earlier than the ultimate vote.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is predicted to log off on the modifications. Civil rights teams sued earlier than Republican lawmakers had been even achieved Monday.

“Texas is using all the means at its disposal to prevent the inevitable change in the Texas electorate,” mentioned Nina Perales, an legal professional with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Her group filed the lawsuit together with a number of different minority rights teams in federal courtroom in Texas. It alleges that Republican mapmakers diluted the political power of minority voters by not drawing any new districts the place Latino residents maintain a majority, regardless of Latinos making up half of Texas’ four million new residents over the past decade.

Abbott’s workplace didn’t reply to a message looking for remark.

Republicans have mentioned they adopted the legislation in defending the maps, which defend their slipping grip on Texas by pulling extra GOP-leaning voters into suburban districts the place Democrats have made inroads lately.

Texas has been routinely dragged into courtroom for many years over voting maps, and in 2017, a federal courtroom discovered {that a} Republican-drawn map was drawn to deliberately discriminate in opposition to minority voters. But two years later, that very same courtroom mentioned there was inadequate cause to take the extraordinary step of placing Texas again beneath federal supervision earlier than altering voting legal guidelines or maps.

The maps that overhaul how Texas’ nearly 30 million residents are sorted into political districts — and who’s elected to signify them — bookends a extremely charged yr within the state over voting rights. Democratic lawmakers twice walked out on an elections invoice that tightened the state’s already strict voting rules, which they referred to as a brazen try and disenfranchise minorities and different Democratic-leaning voters.

The plan doesn’t create any further districts the place Black or Hispanic voters make up greater than 50% of the voting inhabitants, at the same time as individuals of coloration accounted for greater than 9 of 10 new residents in Texas over the previous decade.

Republican state Sen. Joan Huffman, who authored the maps and leads the Senate Redistricting Committee, advised fellow lawmakers that they had been “drawn blind to race.” She mentioned her authorized staff ensured the plan adopted the Voting Rights Act.

The Texas GOP management each chambers of the Legislature, giving them nearly full management of the mapmaking course of. The state has needed to defend their maps in courtroom after each redistricting course of for the reason that Voting Rights Act took impact in 1965, however this would be the first since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling mentioned Texas and different states with a historical past of racial discrimination not must have the Justice Department scrutinize the maps earlier than they’re accredited.

However, drawing maps to engineer a political benefit isn’t unconstitutional. The proposal would additionally make an estimated two dozen of the state’s 38 congressional districts protected Republican districts, with a possibility to choose up a minimum of one further newly redrawn Democratic stronghold on the border with Mexico, in keeping with an evaluation by The Associated Press of information from final yr’s election collected by the Texas Legislative Council. Currently, Republicans maintain 23 of the state’s 36 seats.

Following negotiations between Texas House members and state senators, the districts of Houston space districts of U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who’s serving her 14th time period, and U.S. Rep Al Green, a neighboring Democrat, had been restore, unpairing the 2 and drawing Jackson Lee’s home again into her district.

Texas lawmakers additionally accredited redrawn maps for their very own districts, with Republicans following the same plan that doesn’t improve minority alternative districts and would hold their social gathering in energy within the state House and Senate.

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Associated Press author Paul J. Weber contributed to this report. Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points.

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