AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) — The Texas Legislature is back in Austin for its third special session of the year. Both houses gaveled in at 10:00 a.m. on September 20.

The primary focus of the session will be redrawing maps for Congress, the Texas House, the Texas Senate and the State Board of Education.

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The 2021 cycle of redistricting is meant to revise district boundaries to evenly distribute Texas’ population and ensure voters have fair representation.

Republicans hold majorities in both chambers and, with their individual electoral survival at stake, have the vote advantage to use the process to position their party for decades.

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The draft of the first legislative map, released just days ago, sparked outrage from Democrats. State Sen. Beverly Powell (D-Burleson) said in a statement the population of people of color in her district has grown over the last 10 years, while the white population has dropped. But that the proposed map reconfigures the district to potentially give Republicans an advantage.

“The proposed State Senate map is a direct assault on the voting rights of minority citizens in Senate District 10 and, if adopted, it would be an act of intentional discrimination,” she said.

Texas has grown by nearly four million people in the past decade, picking up two additional U.S. House seats. US Census data shows people of color fueled 95% of that growth.

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Governor Greg Abbott also gave the legislature four other action items to consider — they include trying once again to ban transgender athletes from competing in UIL sports, unless it’s under their gender at birth, and whether to allow public entities to mandate the COVID vaccines, a move meant to beef up Gov. Abbott’s executive order banning such requirements.

CBSDFW.com Staff