I think there’s a lot of merit to this.
From state Sen. Kel Seliger, a member of the smaller-government Republican Party and an architect of the Legislature’s redistricting maps that were nixed by federal judges last week, comes this:
Consider expanding the Texas Senate from 31 to 37 members.
At a public forum at the University of Texas [last] Tuesday, Seliger, of Amarillo, floated the idea “to start the discussion in public.”
He said his staff is researching a proposed constitutional amendment that could come up for debate the next time the Legislature meets in regular session, January 2013.
“If you asked most people what they thought about having more legislators in Austin, they’d probably say: ‘Oh, great. That’s a horrible idea,’” said Seliger, chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee.
“But if you look at it from the standpoint of representation, state senators now represent around 800,000 people — and in some parts of the state, that covers a whole lot of ground. It makes really representing those people very difficult, makes interaction with constituents very difficult.”
“To those people who would say this is a bad idea, I would say, ‘Suppose you’re in Glasscock County, which has no incorporated city and no airport?’” Seliger said, citing a county in his district. “Do you want to increase your chances that your voice will be heard in Austin or not?
“When I go out there, I fly my single-engine plane into a crop-dusting strip. It’s way out there, but those people deserve representation the same as anyone else.”
Seliger said Texas senators will represent more people than members of the U.S. Congress. The last time the Senate’s district boundaries were redrawn, state senators each represented an average 672,000 people.
I completely agree with this. Texas gained four Congressional seats because of its big increase in population. It doesn’t make sense to me that Senate districts should be left to become that much larger because we don’t have a mechanism for adjusting the size of the Senate to the size of the state. I don’t know what Sen. Seliger has in mind, but my suggestion would be to not do this as a one-time fix, but to propose an amendment that would tie the number of Senators to the number of Congresspeople that Texas has. This way, we can ensure that Senate districts don’t get too big, and it provides a mechanism to shrink it back down if population trends change.