Hi 90 / Lo 73
|Volume 68, Issue 152,
Monday, June 30, 2003
Bridget Brown Matthew Dulin
War in the Texas Legislature: Part II
A public hearing Saturday made way for heated debate between Democrats and Republicans over whether or not voter redistricting would be helpful to the minority and Democratic community of Texas. The day-long hearing had more than 400 concerned citizens crowding an auditorium at Texas Southern University waiting to be heard by state and national officials.
Heated arguments erupted between several Democratic State reps including Garnet Coleman and Ron Wilson, who disagreed that while redistricting would allow for one more black Texas representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, it would also allow at least seven new Republican representatives.
The regular Texas Legislative session laid forth a plan that was approved by the House Redistricting Committee to increase the number of Texas Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Democrats now hold 17 of the state's 32 seats, and GOP representatives feel their party should hold the majority because Texans are now predominately Republican. The new map died in session because more than 50 Democratic state representatives fled to Oklahoma in an effort to deprive the state House the needed quorum it needed to debate the bill.
Today, the issue will be reopened in a special legislative session in which State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, will push for the map that carves out odd-shaped voting districts joining districts of unrelated geography all to serve the GOP. Nothing short of another walk out will probably prevent the Texas Legislature Committee from going ahead with the plan. As Wilson said to the crowd at the TSU hearing, "The plan is going to pass whether you like it or not." Many others agree.
Senators like Wentworth are trying to sell the idea by arguing it will allow a third black representative to represent Texas in the House because of a new predominately black zoned area. This would give the black community a part of the congressional delegation just under their 11.5 percent of the state's population. But the chances of this actually benefiting the black population is slim considering the overpowering GOP will have the last say in important decisions regarding minorities in Texas.
The next public hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Caesar Chavez High School, located at 8501 Howard Dr.
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