2017 Year in Review

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.

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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:

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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.

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.

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?  

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.

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