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Census data is out

Start firing up the mapmaking units.

U.S. Census data released today shows the Hispanic population in Texas increased by 42 percent since 2000, and the group now makes up 38 percent of the population.

Texas’ population is now 25,145,561. That’s a 4,293,741 increase from 2000’s figure and 20.6 percent change. Seventeen counties saw their Hispanic population increase by more than 100 percent.

And from the Census Bureau press release:

Data for Texas show that the five most populous incorporated places and their 2010 Census counts are Houston, 2,099,451; San Antonio, 1,327,407; Dallas, 1,197,816; Austin, 790,390; and Fort Worth, 741,206. Houston grew by 7.5 percent since the 2000 Census. San Antonio grew by 16.0 percent, Dallas grew by 0.8 percent, Austin grew by 20.4 percent, and Fort Worth grew by 38.6 percent.

The largest county is Harris, with a population of 4,092,459. Its population grew by 20.3 percent since 2000. The other counties in the top five include Dallas, with a population of 2,368,139 (increase of 6.7 percent); Tarrant, 1,809,034 (increase of 25.1 percent); Bexar, 1,714,773 (increase of 23.1 percent); and Travis, 1,024,266 (increase of 26.1 percent).

“Wait!” I hear you cry. “Houston is short of 2.1 million people, which was the magic number for drawing two new Council districts. What’s up with that”? Here’s the answer, straight from Mayor Parker:

“I am quite surprised by the numbers because all indications were thatwe had already reached a population of 2.1 million residents. Because we are so close to that threshold, we are proceeding as planned with redistricting and the addition of two new City Council seats. As part of this process, we have adopted a timeline and scheduled public meetings in each council district. In addition, today, I appointed a special mayor’s committee to advise me as we proceed.”

Committee members:
The Honorable Zinetta Burney
Penny Hess Butler
The Honorable Anthony Hall, Chair
The Honorable Roman Martinez
Mace Meeks
The Honorable Gordon Quan
Pat Sanchez
Adolfo Santos
The Honorable Sue Schechter

More information on the Houston Census is available at: http://2010.census.gov/news/xls/cb11cn37_tx_2010redistr.xls

The real question is what happens to Harris County, because as Greg notes, its share of the population translates to 24.416 seats in the House, meaning that we should expect to lose one. As all of the seats in Harris County currently held by Democrats are protected by the Voting Rights Act, that means a Republican seat would be on the chopping block. That ought to be fun to watch.

Anyway. There will be tons more to talk about in the coming months – this is all just the first course. More from the Census Bureau is here – click on Texas and hover over the county of your choice for data. Greg, the Lone Star Project, and Abby Rapoport have more, and statements from Reps. Garnet Coleman, Carol Alvarado, and Jessica Farrar are beneath the fold.

UPDATE: Here’s a great look at Texas population by Congressional district.

UPDATE: And Greg produces “Census View of Harris County State Reps”.

UPDATE: Apparently, not everyone agrees with the Mayor’s decision to proceed with redistricting.

Councilman Mike Sullivan questioned why the council was not informed about whom the mayor appointed to her redistricting committee, and he also disputed the need to add two districts.

“Council governs very well in its existing form,” he said. “As the population grows, they are still very well represented at the council table. I don’t know of any ethnic group or interest group that does not have a voice at City Council.”

I’m pretty sure the 1979 lawsuit settlement did not include an opt-out clause in the event all ethnic or interest groups were represented in Council, but feel free to consult with an attorney about that.

Representative Garnet F. Coleman, chair of the Legislative Study Group House Caucus, released the following statement in response to the release of U.S. Census Data for the state of Texas:

“The Legislative Study Group looks forward to working with caucus members to ensure that Texas families are fairly represented by their government. The growth of communities and population shifts in our state as evidenced by the Census data show the need for a fair, open and transparent redistricting process that takes into account proper apportionment, socioeconomic and demographic data.”

“We will work to ensure the interests of families and communities across the state are addressed.”

Statement from State Representative Carol Alvarado Regarding the Release of the 2010 United State Census Data

“With an increase of ­­­­­­­­4.3 million new residents, the release of the 2010 United States Census data confirmed the estimates that Texas has had a major growth in our population. The data has also confirmed that this increase is directly related to the increase in our Latino community, which grew by a rate of 41.8% in our state and represents 37.6% of the overall Texas population.

The Texas redistricting process should provide for fair and accurate representation of this data and should expand opportunities for Latinos. The Latino community should receive three of the new Congressional seats or better and should be properly represented in the State Legislature and on the State Board of Education.”

Statement from Rep. Jessica Farrar:

“This Census data shows what lawmakers have known for generations. Whether you are a Texan by birth or you ‘got here as soon as you could,’ Texas is a destination state that more and more people are proud to call home.

These new Texas families cannot simply be welcomed. The Texas Legislature must acknowledge our responsibility to these newest residents. It must prop up the public schools, colleges, and universities, not gut them as the Republican supermajority is proposing. To ensure a prosperous future, the Legislature must ensure that every new Texan has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

With the new Census data, Texans deserve an open and honest redistricting process that ensures that their votes count. The outcome of district boundaries should reflect the demographic growth and shifts in a way that maximizes, not minimizes, the votes of every Texan. House Democrats will fight to protect the principle that every Texan be able to fully participate in the democratic process to elect the candidates of their choice.

As the Legislature analyzes the new Census numbers, House Democrats will release periodic updates to help the public better understand the implications of the data.”

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6 Comments

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  2. Mainstream says:

    I doubt it is legal to go forward with adding 2 seats in the absence of official census data showing Houston has greater than 2.1 million persons. The charter language could present a problem for the City in court if someone is unhappy with the proposed additional districts and chooses to argue that increasing the size of council at this point in time is not legally permitted.

  3. Mainstream says:

    Hubert Vo’s district is not a VRA district, and there could be some dispute whether Hochberg resides in such a district. In a setting where the total number of districts is reduced, it would not be retrogression to eliminate a VRA district if population has dropped dramatically and will no longer support a district. For example Hernandez’ district is seriously underpopulated, as are several of her neighbors.

  4. On the city population issue, here’s Marc Campos quoting City Attorney David Feldman:

    “The Charter provision with the 2.1 million trigger does not limit the information that Council may use to determine that the threshold has been reached. For example, Council may factor in likely population growth since April 2010 when the census was actually taken, the fact that the census did not include limited purpose annexation areas with population, and census errors. With the census only a few hundred shy of the 2.1, there is no question that we have actually reached it.”

    Seems pretty clear to me.

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