AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Senate has released proposed redistricting maps for the next election cycle. It includes 38 congressional districts and a lot of changes for southeast Texas.
As ABC13 first reported Monday, the two new districts are 37 in Austin and 38 in Houston.
In Austin, District 37 is drawn to give Democrats an extra seat. Meanwhile, in Houston, District 38 is a safe bet for Republicans.
The new map, if approved, would reconfigure existing districts. It protects Republicans Dan Crenshaw in District 2 and Troy Nehls in District 22.
It also changes the demographics for District 7, making it more of a minority district and potentially drawing a primary challenger to two-term incumbent democrat Lizzie Fletcher, according to Rice University Political Science Fellow Mark Jones.
"Fletcher's district went from being a swing district to a dark blue district with the Democrats certain to win," Jones said. "However, it went from an Anglo majority district to a minority-majority district meaning that Fletcher is now vulnerable to a challenger from a person of color. "
Republicans who are in control of the process have benefitted themselves by making their districts stronger and more reliably Republican, while essentially packing or condensing Democrat districts to diminish those voters' influence in other districts.
In District 7, where Fletcher flipped the district from Republican to Democrat two cycles ago, the newly-proposed seven would take minority voters from neighboring districts where they might have voted against incumbent Republicans.
Unlike previous maps, these new maps are not subject to federal pre-approval.
"In 2013, Shelby v. Holder, the Supreme Court annulled section five of the voting rights act," Jones told ABC13. "Which means the Texas legislature, unlike the case in previous cycles, does not need to seek pre-clearance from either the Department of Justice or a federal district court in the District of Columbia, meaning, that these maps don't have to pass muster with anyone."
The maps are not final. The Texas House has not released its new map and there will be lawsuits and legal challenges to any new maps. But those challenges could take years to resolve, so 2022 likely looks different than 2020 for states with a booming population and a huge demographic shift.