Lawmakers in the Texas Senate will hold meetings every day this week to hear from Texans about the 2021 legislative redistricting process.
The 12 scheduled public input meetings will allow Texans to speak their mind about any considerations, ideas, or complaints they have about redistricting.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also the first time Texans will be able and must testify virtually via Zoom.
The testimonies will be heard by the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting, currently led by state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican representing the Houston area.
Anyone can register 24 hours in advance of a meeting to testify. Each session will focus on a different region or metro area of Texas, although the committee will hear public input from any part of the state during any of the meetings.
Monday’s three-hour regional hearing focused on West Texas and included testimony from many El Pasoans about the importance of Latino representation and the need to draw lines from accurate Census data. Others testified about shifting control of the redistricting process from the legislature to independent or citizen-led commissions to avoid gerrymandering. Director of the Texas Demographic Center Dr. Lloyd Potter also testified (and will testify at each meeting) about the latest population projections for the state and region.
The public input meetings will run until February. Texans can register to testify via Zoom here.
Redistricting plans will be filed as bills along with other legislation this session. Lawmakers will begin drawing map plans once Census data become available no later than April 1.
The public meetings on redistricting come as the Biden administration put an end to a Trump-era Census Bureau project last week that would have created neighborhood-level statistics about citizenship status — data that would have been used by Republican lawmakers to draw district lines disadvantageous to non-white voters.
A similar rollback by Biden will make it so that undocumented residents are not excluded from Census data used for appropriating congressional seats, a move guaranteeing Texas a few extra U.S. House seats.
Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com