Texas redistricting maps are a work in progress

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas legislative redistricting maps released within the last two weeks are a work in progress. They will not look exactly like this when the legislators finalize them during this third special session.

"The process is actually four different bills," said Republican House Caucus Chair Jim Murphy. "They each have to go through the Senate. They each have to go through the House."

Murphy also told ABC13 he believes the process is fair.

"They're going to follow the law," Murphy said. "That's a given. And the other thing is, we have to redistrict. A lot of people throw stones at us and say, 'Why are you doing this?' The census requires it."

But, the lines as they exist in these iterations do tend to strengthen Republican control in favorable districts while either condensing or splitting likely Democrat constituencies.

Take for example the Riveraine apartment complex in west Houston. It's a predominantly minority district that the original state House map split down the middle. It's not the only one.

While we understand the lines could shift, public policy expert Blair Lee with Texas Southern University's Center for Justice Research said this sort of move does not represent Texas' growth.

"Black, Hispanic, and Asian voters are being packed into districts so their voices are muted or divided into large minority communities," Lee said. "It is an attempt to maintain power to keep an establishment in control."

But, Leonard Spearman Jr. disagreed with that assessment. Spearman is a longtime Republican, who held posts in three presidential administrations, state, and county government. He said when Democrats are in power, they too flex their political muscle and playing identity politics is wrong.

"Personally, I think we ought to have come to the conclusion that people with good intent and good interest can represent anyone," Spearman says. "We've seen it on a state-senate basis in Texas. We've seen it on a congressional seat in Texas, as well when someone white represented Hispanics for years, and there was no outcry that this was not fair."

And while there is constant chatter about a non-partisan redistricting commission taking the lead on the efforts in Texas, most political insiders agree that's unlikely to happen any time soon because whoever is in power, likely won't want to give it up. The final maps could get votes on the floor as early as next week.

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