Redistricting could be battle in next legislative session

November 10, 2010 3:29:25 PM PST
After an historic midterm election, Republicans and Democrats are getting ready to draw their new battle lines across the state. It's an important fight that could influence who will represent you in congress.

Redistricting is a complicated process that affects every single Texan. It changes where the lines are drawn for state representatives, state senators and members of congress. And every decade, it's a tough task to complete.

It's one of those things people hear about.

"They do redistricting in their favor so they can elect whoever the candidate might be," said one Houstonian with whom we spoke.

They even have some opinions about it, but may not be able to describe given its complexity.

"I think it's also going to upset some neighborhoods and cause some issues," another Houstonian said.

Yet every 10 years, Texas legislators get the task of redrawing the lines that make up boundaries for every political district in the state, affecting who can run where and how many people get represented by a given politician.

And this year, as they attempt the task, they also have to squeeze in another three -- maybe four -- congressional seats to accommodate Texas' growth.

"We're the only state that will gain more than two congressional seats," State Representative Carol Alvarado said.

Alvarado is in a committee traveling the state trying to figure how best to draw those new lines, ones that will accommodate not only bigger numbers, but changing diversity.

"I think in Houston and in Dallas, you will see a district that will be drawn that a Hispanic could run and win in," Alvarado said.

This year, the GOP will have the advantage in drawing the lines. They have a two to one margin in the state house and stand to benefit.

But Republican State Representative Jim Murphy says he doesn't expect fireworks.

"I think there's always going to be some partisan elements to redistricting. Clearly with the Democrats being in the big minority in the Texas house, that won't be as much the case," Murphy said.

Still, expect the process very few understand to be the one everyone in politics talks about for at least the next 12 months.

The committee on redistricting will be holding a meeting here in Houston at the University of Houston on November 20, which is a week from Saturday. At that meeting, you'll be able to listen to proposals and give your input.


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