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TX Legislature shouldn't push redistricting

Sept. 9, 2003

Staff editorial

The Texas Legislature, after the 2000 U.S. Census, began the task of redrawing congressional districts as mandated by law. The courts require all states to redraw their congressional districts every 10 years to reflect population shifts in the states, ensuring districts are proportional in size.

When the legislature, then under divided control, failed to agree on a redistricting map, the task went to the courts, as is customary.

A new map was approved and the 2002 election was held under these districts. This should have been the end of the redistricting process until the next census. But now the Republican Party, which took full control of both houses of the legislature in 2002, seeks again to redraw the congressional lines, a process unprecedented in U.S. politics, in order to give their party an unfair advantage in future congressional elections.

The Lariat believes the redistricting process was over in 2001, after the courts drew the new map that is in use today.

Instead of using their new power to draw congressional districts that divide communities in half and lump rural areas into metropolitan suburban districts, we believe the Republicans should focus more attention on the budget shortfall the state faces, which is expected to be at least $5 billion.

Special legislative sessions come at a price tag of $1.7 million apiece. Gov. Rick Perry already has called two such sessions. If he calls a third special session now that State Senator John Whitmire of Houston has split ranks with the exiled Democrats, boycotting the Senate in New Mexico, the total cost of these sessions will surpass $5 million.

Gov. Perry should be ashamed of himself - spending millions on special sessions when public schools, higher education, health care programs and so many other important areas face deep budget cuts.

We feel the Republican leadership in Texas apparently gives more importance to adding seats to their congressional delegation than working to improve our public schools, fund our colleges and universities and provide healthcare for poor children.

The Lariat believes redistricting should have been over and done with in 2001. Gov. Perry should not call the legislature back into special session for redistricting for yet a third time. Instead, he should stop wasting Texans' tax dollars and focus on more important issues at hand.