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The Brief: June 6, 2013

The redistricting debate has hit the road for its first stop in a four-city tour.

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The Big Conversation

The redistricting debate has hit the road for its first stop in a four-city tour.

Members of the House Select Committee on Redistricting will travel to Dallas today to hold their first field hearing on the state's voting maps, which Gov. Rick Perry last week summoned lawmakers back to the Capitol to address.

Specifically, Perry, backed by Attorney General Greg Abbott, has called on lawmakers to ratify the court-drawn maps currently in place for the Legislature and members of the U.S. House. Maps originally passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature in 2011 are tied up in federal court on charges that they discriminate against minority populations.

This time, in addition to meetings at the state Capitol, Republican leaders have scheduled public hearings on the maps in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi, likely in an attempt to defend against future legal challenges, as The Dallas Morning News notes.

Democrats, however, continue to push for consideration of maps that they say more accurately reflect minority population growth in the state. In addition to legislation that would make the interim maps permanent, the committee today will also consider plans by three Democratic House members — Yvonne Davis of Dallas, Rafael Anchia of Dallas and Garnet Coleman of Houston — that would increase the number of minority districts in Congress or in the Texas House, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

"Hopefully some people will be able to attend and testify," state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, told the Star-Telegram. "It’s very important that the committee be open-minded and willing to consider other alternatives beyond the interim congressional map and the House maps."

The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. at the DART headquarters. The House committee will then meet in San Antonio on Monday and Houston on Wednesday, while a Senate panel will meet in Corpus Christi on Friday and Houston on Saturday. 

Culled

•    Rand Paul, Ted Cruz to keynote Iowa evangelical confab (The Washington Examiner): "Evangelical leaders who believe establishment Republicans forced unwinnable and unworthy presidential candidates on them in the past two elections are getting a jump on the 2016 process, and popular Tea Party Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are helping to lead the way. Paul, of Kentucky, and Texan Cruz are scheduled to deliver keynote speeches at the influential 'Pastors and Pews' event in Iowa in mid-July. Other key GOP potential candidates including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback have been invited."

•    Some state agency chiefs get hefty raises (Austin American-Statesman): "The Legislature gave most state employees a 3 percent pay raise over the next two years, but top state agency executives got much larger pay hikes — some that are much more than many of their employees make in annual take-home pay."

•    Lawyers Ask to Reopen Evidence in School Finance Trial (The Texas Tribune): "State district court Judge John Dietz has agreed to hear new testimony in the sweeping school finance trial involving more than two-thirds of the state's school districts, a trial that had concluded in February. In a hearing in Dietz's courtroom Wednesday, lawyers for both the districts and the state said that evidence should be updated following a legislative session in which Texas lawmakers made significant changes to public education policy."

•    Ousted Texas water planners: We were 'excluded' (The Associated Press): "Fired under a major bill signed by Gov. Rick Perry, the state's top water planners say lawmakers drastically overhauled the Texas Water Development Board without seeking their input or offering them a chance to save their jobs."

Quote of the Day: "I’ve been meeting with people and setting things up. I’m exploring a run for statewide office." — State Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, to The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday

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