A coalition of Latino groups unveiled a redistricting map that would add five Latino-majority districts to the political map used to elect state representatives in Texas.
There are 30 such seats now. In the proposal from the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, that would increase to 35, with new seats that represent opportunities for Latinos in the Panhandle/South Plains, in West Texas and in Hidalgo County. Two existing seats, in Tarrant and Harris counties, would be redrawn so that Latinos make up the voting-age majority.
The task force includes the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the American GI Forum, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the William C. Velasquez Institute, the La Fe Research and Education Center, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.
The members of the group were critical of a plan presented Wednesday by State Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, who chairs the House Redistricting Committee. "It reduces the number of districts in which Hispanics have a majority of voters. It's retrogressive," said Nina Perales, litigation director for MALDEF.
She said the task force map would pair 16 incumbents in eight districts, meaning they'd either face one of their colleagues in the next election or move to an open seat where they could run on new turf. That's one more pairing that in the Solomons map.
Details of the new plan were not immediately available, but are supposed to be posted soon on the Texas Legislative Council's redistricting website.