legislation we support

Our top legislative priorities include creating an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (IRC) for both state legislative and U.S. Congressional districts.  We also will be supporting the individual components of the IRC model as legislation.  

1.  Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission 

HJR 123 & HB 3928

SJR 52 & SB 1537

  • The commission would be politically balanced and consist of 14 citizens - 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 4 voters who have not participated in any recent party primary.
  • Commissioners would be chosen for their impartiality, skills, and would reflect our state’s demographic and geographic diversity.

  • The commission would be tasked to create a timeline and draw districts for U.S. Congressional, state legislative, and state board of education districts.

  • The commission would use a list of prioritized, nonpartisan mapping criteria and would ensure that our Constitution, federal and state laws are followed. Texas’ communities, cities, and counties would be respected and not divided unnecessarily.

  • The Commission would draw new district maps in open, public meetings based on census data and public input.

  • To approve the new maps, the plans must receive nine “yes” votes from the Commission—three “yes” votes from members registered with the two largest parties, and three “yes” votes from the other members. 

  • This reform would end the closed-door political deals by legislators to draw districts that protect themselves.

2.  Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission only for congressional districts 

HB 3421

  • Identical to above but by limiting it to only congressional districts. 
  • Adoption would require only legislative approval, not a constitutional amendment. 

 

3. Redistricting Transparency Act

HJR 124

This bill would require the state to: 

  • Hold at least 5 public hearings around the state AFTER the census data is handed down from the federal government, to solicit input from citizens; 

  • Perform outreach to communities and provide advance notice of meetings held by the redistricting committee and to otherwise provide timely information on the committee’s activities;

  • Provide the public opportunity for comment once a redistricting plan is proposed;

  • Require the state to develop a web portal and provide redistricting software so that citizens can have meaningful participation in the redistricting process.

4.  Establish nonpartisan criteria to draw districts with an emphasis on communities of interest

HB 4564

  • Districts must respect counties, cities, communities of interest, and neighborhoods, to the extent possible.  A “community of interest” is a group of individuals who are likely to have similar legislative concerns, and who might therefore benefit from cohesive representation in the state legislature or U.S. Congress.

  • Districts must not be drawn based on partisan data.

  • Districts must compact, contiguous, and nested, where possible.

  • Districts must be composed of whole census tracts.

  • An incumbent’s or political candidate’s residence may not be considered when creating a district.

  • Districts must be substantially equal in population in accordance with these principles; and redistricting plans must comply with all federal constitutional requirements.

 

4.  Other Legislation

 

A.  Prison-based Gerrymandering

HB 104

  • “Prison-based gerrymandering” is a practice whereby many states and local governments count incarcerated persons as residents of the areas where they are housed when election district lines are drawn.

  • This practice distorts our democratic process by artificially inflating the population count—and thus, the political influence—of the districts where prisons and jails are located.

  • As a result, the voting power of everyone living outside of those districts is weakened.

B.  Texas Voting Rights Act

HB 2429

A bill that expands on the existing Voting Rights Act by making it easier for a protected class of citizens to challenge “at-large” election systems in the courts. 

 
 

Publications

by Common Cause US

When nonpartisan citizen redistricting commissions draw state and congressional districts, there is a much greater chance that at least two candidates – one from each major party – will be on the general election ballot. Our analysis shows that commissions also give voters more choices in primary elections by producing fewer districts in which only one person from a major party files to run. The competition pushes candidates to work harder to connect with voters, boosting turnout and strengthening democracy. 

Details of State and Federal Laws governing redistricting.  Want to know more about the constitutional requirements for redistricting?  This resource contains a wealth of information about the redistricting process here in Texas.  A must read for anyone interested in the technical and legal aspects of redistricting.  You can find reports, guides, data (census data and redistricting plans) and even take a look at your districts using District Viewer.

by Austin IRC Commissioners Harriett Harrow, Stefan Haag, Phil Hewitt, and Maria Solis

Please note that this publication represents the views of these four members and not the Austin ICRC.

Austin ICRC Commissioners Harriett Harrow, Stefan Haag, Phil Hewitt, and Maria Solis describe the steps required to establish an independent redistricting commission.  "The process in Austin was a great success. It demonstrated that there is a great untapped reservoir of talent among our citizens and showed one way in which that talent can be realized.  It is a model for all cities. Redistricting need not be a quintessentially political process."

by the Brennan Center for Justice

This Guide provides engaged citizens with the knowledge and tools they need to get involved with this round of redistricting (2010), and to work towards continuing reform to open up the redistricting process in decades to come. If you care about representation, political power or public policy, then you care about redistricting. 

TX to pick up an estimated 3 new congressional seats so far.

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