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The Brief: Top Texas News for Feb. 18, 2011

Large Hispanic population growth was expected, but new census figures could signal more than just a sea change in Texas.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Large Hispanic population growth was expected, but new census figures could signal more than just a sea change in Texas.

The long-awaited U.S. Census Bureau data, released Thursday, showed minorities accounting for 89 percent of the state's explosive population growth over the past decade. Hispanics, now 38 percent of the state's 25,145,561 people, accounted for two-thirds of the total growth.

"It’s a tipping point,” state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, told The New York Times. San Antonio, now two-thirds Hispanic, "looks like what Texas is going to look like in 15 years," she said.

The data — which lawmakers will use to redraw districts (and battle lines) for Congress, the Legislature and the State Board of Education — has already touched off a debate over who should get what and where. "The Latino community should receive three of the new congressional seats or better and should be properly represented in the state Legislature and on the State Board of Education," state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, a member of the Redistricting Committee, told the Tribune.

Fights will surely play out over which areas get to claim the state's four new congressional districts, but observers have said three are likely to go to the fast-growing Dallas and Houston suburbs and one to the Rio Grande Valley.

But the data also revealed that the real fight — over two competing demographic groups — may play out over the long run, with a young, burgeoning Hispanic population essentially competing for resources with an aging, slowly growing white population.

"You have this aging set of Anglos, literally aging off the end of their life chart who are going to need assistance in terms of Social Security, Medicare and in terms of direct care," said Steve Murdock, a former U.S. census director and Texas state demographer. "At the same time, you have a young population that is overwhelmingly minority that needs the financial assistance through taxes and other factors of the older Anglo population to help get the education it needs to be competitive."

CULLED:

  • The Texas Senate passed abortion sonogram legislation Thursday by a vote of 21-10, with three Democrats voting for and one Republican against in an otherwise party-line vote. The legislation, requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram on a woman seeking an abortion and to offer a description of the fetus, will likely sail through the House on its way to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who called on lawmakers at the beginning of the session to fast-track the issue. "I think this is a great day for women, and a great day for Texas," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
  • Law enforcement officials from across Texas met in Austin to blast sanctuary city legislation, which they said would turn their officers into immigration agents and silence victims of crime who will be afraid to identify themselves to police.

"Texas is going to shrink government until it fits into a woman's uterus." — State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, during floor debate over the abortion sonogram legislation

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