The Texas House on Wednesday approved proposed political boundaries for the lower chamber’s 150 districts that would shift Longview Republican Rep. Jay Dean’s House District 7 from Upshur and Gregg counties to Gregg, Harrison and Marion counties.
House Bill 1, authored by state Rep. Todd Hunter, a Corpus Christi Republican who chairs the lower chamber’s redistricting committee, will now head to the Senate for consideration.
Also as part of the map, Upshur County would move under state Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mount Pleasant, who also represents Rains, Wood, Titus, Camp and part of Smith counties.
District 9, which currently includes Harrison, Cass, Marion, Panola, Sabine and Shelby counties and is represented by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, would move south to include the counties of Angelina, Houston, Polk, Trinity and Tyler. Paddie, who has represented House District 9 since 2013, announced recently that he will not seek reelection to another term.
The House’s 83-63 vote Wednesday comes as the Legislature rounds out its third special session of the year, an up to 30-day stretch ordered by Gov. Greg Abbott that has focused on redrawing the state’s congressional, Senate, House and State Board of Education maps based on the latest census data. Those numbers, which were delayed largely because of the pandemic, showed that people of color fueled 95% of the state’s population growth over the past decade.
Despite those growth trends, the number of districts in which white people make up the majority of eligible voters would increase from 83 to 89 in the new map. Meanwhile, the number of districts with a Hispanic majority among eligible voters would drop from 33 to 30, while the number of districts with Black residents as the majority of eligible voters would go from seven to six. Those numbers are based on census estimates of the number of citizens in each district who are of the voting age.
The new map includes 85 districts that would have voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election and 65 that would have voted for Joe Biden. That’s one less Trump district than was originally proposed in the House late last month. The current partisan breakdown of the House is 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats, though Trump only won 76 of the current House districts in 2020.
The special session is slated to end Oct. 19, which means lawmakers have a week left to hash out differences over those maps and other items included on the agenda set by Abbott.
Debate over the House’s map proposal kicked off Tuesday morning and went into early Wednesday morning. Members considered more than 50 amendments to the map, with dozens of those proposed changes being added or failing largely along party lines.
“I appreciate everybody trying,” Hunter said as he laid out the draft Tuesday morning. “I know that in any redistricting, some have issues and some don’t. That’s the nature of redistricting.”