To the surprise of many who thought the process would take more than one special session to sort out, the 87th Legislature successfully redrew congressional, legislative and State Board of Education district maps during its recently concluded third special session. On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the new political maps into law.
Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, carried the bills reapportioning Texas Senate districts (Senate Bill 4), congressional districts (SB 6) and State Board of Education districts (SB 7) through the legislative process, while Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), chair of the House Redistricting Committee, carried House Bill 1, the new map redrawing Texas House districts. Now that the governor has approved them, the new maps take effect Jan. 18. Primary elections are March 1.
Visit the Texas Legislative Council’s interactive District Viewer to see the new maps. This user guide will help you navigate the viewer.
The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to reapportion the state’s senatorial and representative districts during the first regular session after the U.S. Census Bureau publishes its decennial population numbers. Because of delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Census didn’t release its 2020 data until Aug. 12, more than two months after the Legislature’s regular session ended and with its second special session already underway.
So in September, Gov. Abbott called lawmakers back for a third special session, with redistricting topping his list of agenda items. Sens. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) and Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) immediately sued the governor, arguing that the only time the Legislature constitutionally can redistrict is during the next regular session after the Census has published its new data – which would mean no new maps could be drawn until after the 2022 elections and the 88th Legislature convened in January 2023. Opponents say the constitutional mandate is a floor rather than a ceiling and there is precedent for the Legislature drawing new maps in special session. The senators’ lawsuit remains pending.
A group of Latino organizations and individuals also have challenged the new maps in court. They say in their suit filed Oct. 18 that the new maps are discriminatory and violate the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
TAC encourages each county to look at the new maps and to contact Amy Befeld with any questions.