March 19, 2009
More on the AG and the LRB

As we know, in the aftermath of the Senate pajama party on voter ID last week, State Rep. Mark Homer touted HJR 53, which he had filed earlier in the session, which would replace the Attorney General on the Legislative Redistricting Board with the Ag Commissioner. The reason behind it was simple enough - since the Attorney General might be called upon to defend a redistricting scheme in court, he shouldn't be party to its creation. Since then, Homer has gained some support for his measure in the upper chamber.

Sen. Bob Duncan, who had the unenviable job of keeping order during the Committee of the Whole, said he agreed with Abbott's position (though he denied published reports -- based on statements from the AG's office -- that he instructed Abbott to stay away). On Friday, he took that position a step further, and filed SJR 41, which would replace the attorney general with the agriculture commissioner on the Legislative Redistricting Board.

Duncan said he has always though the AG's role on the LRB is "unusual" as it puts the state's attorney in the position of defending a plan in which he or she is also a decision-maker. "What if the Attorney General voted against a particular redistricting plan and then had to defend it in court?" he asked. "It is an inherent conflict."

Shortly after the Committee of the Whole debate, Duncan learned that Rep. Mark Homer had filed HJR 53 giving the AG's spot on the LRB to the ag commissioner. "When I heard about that bill over there, I said I'll carry it on the Senate side," Duncan said.

It's a tough slog getting a constitutional amendment through, especially in a session like this that's wasted a ton of time on trivialities and distractions, but Sen. Duncan's support ought to help.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 19, 2009 to That's our Lege
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