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Senate approves Wentworth redistricting commission bill

It’ll never get past the House, but bully for Wentworth anyway.

The Texas Senate [Wednesday] approved Senate Bill 22, which would create a citizens’ commission to redraw congressional districts.

Congressional redistricting is a highly political task now handled by the Legislature. Senate Bill 22, authored by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, would hand the task to an eight-member commission consisting of four Republicans and four Democrats appointed by the House and Senate. The commission would appoint a ninth, nonvoting member to preside.

Wentworth has long sought redistricting reform. His proposal, approved 16-13 in the Senate, is unlikely to go far in the House.

Here’s SB22. I try to be philosophical about redistricting – of course it’s going to be partisan! – not that it stops me from bitching about it when it serves my purposes. I will say that if we ever do go this route, I’d prefer to hand off all of the legislative redistricting efforts we now have to a Wentworth Commission. If it’s good for Congress, it’s good for the House and Senate (and SBOE) too, right? The House and Senate processes are written into the state Constitution, however, so it’s a much higher bar to clear. And I will note that just because you’ve handed the map-drawing task off to a non-partisan group doesn’t mean no one will think they’ve gotten screwed afterward; just ask California Latinos about their initial experience with the new Citizens Redistricting Commission there.

Like I said, though, this is all an academic exercise. This won’t pass the House, and you need only look at the record vote to realize why. SB22 was approved by all 11 Democrats (Uresti was absent), but only received five Yeses from Republicans – Carona, Deuell, Eltife, Seliger, and Wentworth. The remaining 13 (Duncan was absent) all voted No. That’s not a vote that bodes well for House passage, and that’s before you take into account the remaining unfinished business before the end of the session on Wednesday. It’s a nice try, but it’s nothing more than that. The AusChron has more.

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One Comment

  1. Guest says:

    I agree… of course redistricting is going to be partisan. It is impossible to remove politics from the redistricting process regardless of how the decision makers are chosen. Therefore, shouldn’t those making the decision be persons who are elected and accountable, and not appointed and unaccountable?

    Courts have ruled that the power to make rules for congressional elections (including redistricting) is a lawmaking power; thus it is subject to a state constitution’s provisions for how laws are made. Laws are made by the Legislature, not by a Wentworth commission.