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Agenda Texas: Never a Quick Fix for Redistricting

On the latest Agenda Texas, from KUT News and the Tribune: Those hoping for a quick special session may be disappointed. As lawmakers learned last week, there's nothing quick or easy about redistricting.

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It was supposed to end last Monday.

After 140 days, lawmakers were supposed to pack up and head home. Instead we’re now a week into a special legislative session on congressional and legislative redistricting.

It was a week some thought might be the last for a short special session. But there's nothing quick or easy about redistricting.

"Redistricting turns out to be about as easy as taking apart your dad's watch," said Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey. "Get it all apart it's really really hard to put it back together."

Gov. Rick Perry made a point of setting the session's agenda to only allow for lawmakers to vote on the legislative and congressional maps drawn by a federal court in San Antonio. But lawmakers quickly dismissed his authority to limit what specific maps could be voted on. Once other maps were on the table, things got complicated. Ramsey said not everybody was behind the idea of quickly coming in and passing the court-drawn maps.

"Everybody else was saying some version of, well, I'll only ratify the maps if this changes or if this condition's met, or if they fiddle with that district," Ramsey said.

But taking extra time to finalize new maps doesn't necessarily mean there won't be time for additional subjects during the extra 30-day session. Drawing new maps will be limited to those on the House and Senate redistricting committees. Everyone else can spend time on things like transportation or abortion or school vouchers.

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