One down for the House Redistricting Committee.
A House Redistricting Committee approved a new map for the State Board of Education [Friday] afternoon on a vote of 12-4. The map now moves to the full House.
State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, one of the four no votes, said she thought it would have been possible to “tweak some things and create an opportunity for a Hispanic-majority district.” She noted that Hispanics represented 3 million of the state’s 4.2 million population growth between 2000 and 2010 and a majority of the state’s school population, but that the 15-member board contains only three Hispanic-majority seats.
State Rep. Burt Solomons, the Carrollton Republican who chairs the committee, said he thought it was a fair map and that if lawmakers had alternative proposals they could raise them on the House floor.
“Burt’s been amenable to listening,” Alvarado said.
Greg has comparisons between the old map and the new one, the demographics of the new map, and finally Obama/McCain numbers for each new district. It’s likely this will restore the 10-5 partisan split we had prior to the 2010 Republican wave that washed out Democrat Rene Nunez, with some possibilities for a Republican pickup in SBOE2 and long-range Democratic opportunities in Ken Mercer’s SBOE5 and other places. I’m sure there will be a few more tweaks to this, plus the outside chance of more substantial change. Along those lines, the Statesman notes the main criticism of the map.
The map was modified slightly last week after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund wrote a letter protesting the dilution of Latino voting strength in District 1 — a monster of district that stretches from El Paso County east to San Saba County before turning south into the Rio Grande Valley.
Solomons’ original attempt to redraw that district eliminated some South Texas counties from District 1 and replaced then with Hill Country counties.
That, wrote MALDEF attorney Nina Perales, dropped the Mexican American voting strength in the district from 63 percent to 57 percent. “The unnecessary removal of over 40,000 Latinos from SBOE District 1 significantly reduces the voting strength of Latinos and raises the strong inference that this change was made to prevent Latinos from electing their candidate of choice,” Perales wrote.
The letter from MALDEF’s director of litigation was a broad hint that the organization would sue. Somebody might sue anyway because Solomons’ plan is a basic denial of the 2010 census.
State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, noted that Hispanics account for 2.8 million of the 4.3 million increase in Texas residents between 2000-2010. Solomons’ map “doesn’t reflect that we exist,” said Alonzo, a member of the redistricting committee.
Solomons says membership of the State Board of Education would have to be increased to better represent the state’s 254 counties. With 15 members, he shrugged, there’s just so much you can do. After all, 254 divided by 15 equals problems.
Solomons suggested an interim committee study the matter, but by the time the committee is assembled and meets, the 2012 elections will have come and gone.
And just think, this was, relatively speaking, the easy map for the Redistricting Committee to do. It gets a lot dicier from here.