The Big Conversation:
The maps are out, and the race is on.
For redistricting, that is. Though it's not so much a race as a marathon, as the maps released Wednesday by Rep. Burt Solomons, chairman of the Redistricting Committee in the Texas House, are just the initial proposals in the long process that will redraw district boundaries to account for population growth, as recorded by the 2010 census.
"The map we are proposing is a fair and legal map that represents the people of Texas and our growth over the last 10 years," Solomons said in a statement. "And, I believe the members understand this growth resulted in some difficult decisions for me personally."
The maps, as reported by the Tribune's Ross Ramsey and Matt Stiles, would create one new Hispanic district and draw 16 incumbents into districts where they would face one of their House colleagues in 2012.
In Dallas County, for instance, Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, would face Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie. In West Texas, Jim Landtroop, R-Plainview, would face desk-mate (and, incidentally, roommate) Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, who tells the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he plans to put up a fight.
"This is not final," Perry said. "This is just political gerrymandering, and a lot of counties in West Texas won’t go for it."
The House Redistricting Committee will hold its first hearings on Friday and Sunday. A coalition of Latino groups is set to unveil a proposal of its own today.
- A House committee started hearing testimony Wednesday on several immigration-related bills, dozens of which have been filed this session, including Rep. Leo Berman's legislation to establish English as the official language of Texas, which Berman says he has filed as a cost-saving measure. "This bill has to do with printing costs," he said. Meanwhile, as the Trib's Julián Aguilar reports, religious leaders met in Austin on Wednesday to denounce Republican Rep. Burt Solomons' bill targeting sanctuary cities.
- Amazon.com said it would close an Irving distribution center this week in response to its heated fight with the state over sales tax, but the facility was still open as of Wednesday.
- Eminent domain legislation, on Gov. Rick Perry's list of emergency items for lawmakers to pass quickly, was unanimously approved in an early House vote on Wednesday.
"When would it be a good time to be absent between now and end of the session? Never." — State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, on Republican attempts to push through Senate legislation in the absence of Democrats. On Wednesday, Sens. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, and Royce West, D-Dallas, wanted assurance that a vote on campus-carry legislation wouldn't be held while they greeted first lady Michelle Obama in San Antonio. The courtesy wasn't granted, and the senators stayed put.
- California Begs Texas for Job Recipe With Growth Trading Places, Bloomberg
- Anti-D.C. words make appointee sound fed up, San Antonio Express-News
- Rick O'Donnell: The Emails, The Texas Tribune
And on this week's TribCast: campus carry, the Doggett Amendment and a little redistricting