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Senate redistricting hearing

So the Senate Redistricting Committee hearing was today. See if you can spot a theme here. Sen. Kirk Watson expressed his dissatisfaction with the map that was introduced by Sen. Kel Seliger.

At a morning hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, Watson blasted the proposed Senate plan as dividing historical minority constituencies in south and east Austin. He said that would violate previous court decisions that required minority voting patterns in Travis County to be kept intact.

“Inappropriate attention was paid (in the Senate plan) to protecting minority voting patterns in Travis County,” Watson said, urging the panel to approve his plan instead.

“There’s no need to do this.”

By splitting Austin among four senators, Watson said, voters would face less cohesive representation and turnout could be discouraged. “Montopolis would be represented by a senator from Laredo,” he said. “Southwest Austin would be represented by a senator who lives in Horseshoe Bay. South Austin would be represented by a senator who lives in San Antonio.

Voters would be asking themselves: Why should I vote for someone who doesn’t even live in my county.”

Sen. Wendy Davis expressed her dissatisfaction with the map.

An emotional Davis told the committee that the map was a slap in the face to the African-American and Hispanic communities that were pivotal in electing her to office in 2008.

“Not very long ago, I was a single mother,” Davis said, choking back tears. “I lived in southeast Fort Worth, in a trailer…Like many that I represent, I often came home to my electricity being turned off, unable to drive my car when I couldn’t afford to insure it.”

Davis said she still identifies strongly with her humble roots.

“I am the people of the district that I represent,” Davis said. “I am a part of that minority coalition of voices that elected me to serve them.”

Sen. Judith Zaffirini expressed her dissatisfaction with the map.

Seliger said the map was released as soon as it was ready. There was nothing nefarious about the timing, he said.

When asked if he felt a day was enough time for Texans to learn about the map and arrange to come to Austin to comment, Seliger said, “I believe it has been a fair process and a legal one.”

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, repeatedly brought up the issue at Thursday’s hearing.

When Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, testified in support of the map, Zaffirini asked him when he learned about how his district was being redrawn. Birdwell told her he learned last Friday.

Zaffirini and State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, both said they were “kept in the dark” about the map until Tuesday.

“Most members representing minority districts saw the map for the first time less than 48 hours earlier,” Zaffirini said.

You get the idea. Several other maps have been proposed today – you can see them all here. And where there’s a redistricting hearing, there’s Greg liveblogging it. We’ll see how long it takes for the final version of this map to get voted out. With the budget situation still up in the air, it’s going to be fighting for floor time.

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