redistricting

State of Texas District Viewer / http://gis1.tlc.state.tx.us/

The chief legal counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is applauding Gov. Rick Perry for signing into law the interim voting maps, but said not having a Voting Rights Act leaves minority communities vulnerable.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Nina Perales is the chief legal counsel for the MALDEF and said the supreme court has taken away a tool for fair and equitable state voting maps.

State of Texas District Viewer

A bill that would’ve decided the fate of voting maps for members of the Texas House initially failed to pass because of several extended phone conversations.

After waiting for over 15 minutes for Republican members to return to the hearing for a vote, an order was given to find the missing representatives.  

After a vote was cast, Rep Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, who is the committee chairman, asked to be excused to check the back offices for the missing Republicans.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

Some House Republicans feel that too much time is being spent debating abortion legislation during the special session and not enough time on roads.

The House first assigned a set of four abortion bills to a select committee on Monday, giving the bills a later start than their Senate companions, but despite that there are some who feel the bills have a fighting chance.

State of Texas District Viewer / http://gis1.tlc.state.tx.us/

Following several out-of-town hearings on the subject of redistricting, the Senate committee is back in Austin hearing various plans for changing the state’s voting maps, which included a plan from Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, who said he borrowed his argument from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"It concludes by saying -- in essence -- that while the Voting Rights Act may not require the creation of a crossover district, the purposeful dismantling of a crossover district would raise serious questions under the 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution," Watson said.

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

The House and Senate redistricting committees have secured a legal team to help solve the challenges that exist with the issue of voting districts.

While the House committee has hit the road to hold public meetings in the Dallas area, the Senate committee held its last state capitol meeting before heading out to their own public meetings.

Sen. Kel Seleger, R-Amarillo, the Senate’s redistricting chairman, said the Senate will be using C. Robert Heath, who he said is one of the most experienced redistricting attorneys  in the United States.

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