A lively legislative session — and a special session — that featured fights over bathrooms. Legal battles over abortion, immigration policy and political maps. A devastating hurricane. 2017 was filled with nonstop news in Texas. Here are the highlights.More in this series
Editor's note: If you'd like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey's column, click here.
The current round of redistricting — the drawing of political maps for the state’s congressional, state Senate and state House delegations — began with the 2010 census and maps originally drawn in the 2011 legislative session.
With only two election cycles left before the next census, the congressional and House maps are still being contested in court. For now, the courts are saying Texas should run the 2018 elections with the same political lines used two years ago. Those districts favor Republicans, who had a legislative majority when the maps were made and who have preserved that majority, in part, because of the districts they drew. In fairness, it must be said that Republicans have won all of the statewide elections in Texas since 1994 and would probably have legislative majorities without tweaking the maps in their favor.
The long legal and political fight is worthy of Dickens, but he’s not around to write about it. Here are a few of my columns on the subject from 2017:
The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.
The judges overseeing litigation on Texas redistricting haven't done anything public for two years. The lawyers who sued the state over its political maps are trying to get the judges to chirp or get off the perch.
- Analysis: A law that lets political majorities cheat — and win (April 12, 2017)
Another federal judge has ruled that Texas legislators intentionally discriminated on the basis of race when changing voting and election laws. But even if the laws change back, the state still got away with it.
Winning some more seats in the congressional delegation or the Legislature would make Texas Democrats happy, but the real prize at stake in the state's redistricting legislation is federal oversight of the state's Republican mapmakers.
- Analysis: The Texas Legislature’s persistent discrimination (Aug. 30, 2017)
Texas lawmakers have now been popped by federal judges seven or eight times in recent years for intentionally discriminating against minority voters with voter ID and redistricting legislation. Think they’ve got a problem?
- Analysis: Forget about new political maps — probably (Sept. 15, 2017)
The nation's highest court says Texas should use the political maps it already has in place while litigation over those maps continues. But the courts have been known to change the maps in the middle of election years.
Read related Tribune coverage:
One particular type of government program is hyper-sensitive to poor performance and quick to change at almost any dollar cost, which begs the question: Why doesn't everything work like college football? [Full story]
The months leading up to the candidate filing deadline were full of talk about who might challenge whom, a drawn-out round of punditry. Now we know who filed for what, and some of the results were unexpected. [Full story]
It's not that Texas Democrats can't find anyone to run for governor in 2018. It's that none of the eight contenders (so far) is familiar to voters across the state. [Full story]