AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas lawmakers are back at the Capitol for the start of the third special session. One of the major items on the agenda is redistricting, the redrawing of political maps for Congressional, State House and Senate districts every ten years after results of the census are released.
The Republican majority in the House and Senate will oversee the process, but members of both parties acknowledge the maps will end up in court. So far, Republicans have released the proposed map of the state’s 31 Senate districts. One district already under the political microscope is Senate District 10 in Tarrant County, which currently leans Democratic.
The current district is entirely in Tarrant County, but under the newly drawn map District 10 would be in a smaller portion of Tarrant County and include all of Johnson and Parker counties, which are more Republican.
Democratic Senator Beverly Powell of Fort Worth, who represents the district, rejected the proposal. “This is a clear, intentional attempt to dismantle Senate District 10, to disenfranchise the minority voters of Tarrant County. I won’t say that I was terribly surprised by it. But I was surprised at the extent to which they have drawn our minority voters out of the district.”
Republican Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills represents Senate District 9, which is also in Tarrant County. “There’s some things that I like, with what the new map looks like. And some things that, you know, I just didn’t necessarily like with the new map. Nobody likes change. And yet, we have to address the population growth, and that means the lines change.”
Lawmakers haven’t yet released the proposed map for Congressional districts, but Texas will receive two new seats in Congress. Republicans and Democrats agree North Texas should receive one of the new districts because of population growth during the past ten years. But they disagree on whether demographics of that growth should play a role.READ MORE: Homeowner Terry Duane Turner Charged In Slaying Of Motorist Adil Dghoughi In His Driveway
State Senator Royce West, Democrat of Dallas said, “The fact is, it should be a seat a Hispanic can win, and we can still maintain the districts that we currently have. What I don’t want to see happen is that the powers that be turned around to try to take both of the congressional seats.”
Rick Barnes, Chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party said, “I think the mindset says we set it up to serve a specific demographic is the wrong mindset. That’s not at all what it’s intended to do, is intended to provide for equal representation amongst people.”
During their special session over the next 30 days, lawmakers will also consider how to spend billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief from the federal government and a bill that would require transgender public school athletes to compete on teams that are the same as their birth gender.MORE NEWS: Dallas Neighborhood Crime Spike Has Many Questioning, 'Is Uptown Going Downhill?'