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25Nov/110

Exhausting Almanac Update

All 150 of the State Rep districts in the court-ordered Plan H302 are now updated on the Almanac. Lots of swing districts to check out in there, so I'm hoping to do a review of some of them before the weekend ends. Each page is populated with a district map, demographics (including CVAP), and 2008 & 2010 election data. Some of the districts are more of a challenge to get good context from those two elections, so I'll add some 2004 and/or 2006 election data to help that along.

Congressional pages will follow during the UH-Tulsa football game, which kicks off at 11am today. Fortunately, the high school team doesn't kick off till noon tomorrow. So the heart attacks and fingernail chewing should be at least somewhat spread out over the weekend.

24Nov/110

Lege Council Serves Up Data for the Holidays

What politigeeks read over the holidays...

Texas Legislative Council: Court-Ordered and Proposed Districts for 2012 Elections.

I have some vague memories of what Thanksgiving used to be like. But, for now, football is background noise to updating the Almanac. Demographics, 2008 elections, and 2010 elections are now in place for all districts. Maps about to follow. And that's just for the State House map. State Senate and the proposed Congressional map will follow. No rest for the weary, but at least I get a high school football break right before Christmas.

23Nov/111

Plan C220: The Houston Area

Here's what the Houston-area congressional districts look like:


(full page - Plan C220 Google Earth file)

No second Hispanic district in there. So it'll be interesting to see what the LULACs and MALDEFs of the world do with this. Some of the districts on the periphery look like they might be rather competitive. The CD14 composition doesn't change any from this analysis. And CD10 looks like it got a little bit more competitive than it was before. And CD7 starts the decade a bit more competitive than it ended the previous decade. I wouldn't expect to see all three of those districts electing Republicans by the end of the decade.

I'll be updating the Almanac with the full election math starting tonight. But here's what the rest of them look like for Obama & Bill White math.

        McCain         Obama
--------------------------------     
2   157,174 64.9%   83,243 34.4%
7   147,992 56.6%  111,196 42.5%
8   174,654 73.5%   60,866 25.6%
9    38,001 22.2%  132,168 77.3%

10  142,003 51.9%  127,129 46.5%
14  139,899 57.3%  102,209 41.9%
18   42,095 22.0%  147,832 77.4%
22  141,739 58.6%   98,293 40.6%

29   41,881 37.2%   69,824 62.0%
34  162,077 66.1%   80,665 32.9%
36  160,901 67.8%   73,856 31.1%

       Perry          White
-------------------------------
2   107,101 63.3%  59,046 34.9%
7    99,934 54.4%  80,938 44.0%
8   122,481 70.8%  46,474 26.8%
9    21,692 21.1%  80,065 77.7%
10   93,239 53.8%  73,775 42.6%
14   92,365 56.1%  68,641 41.7%
18   26,575 21.9%  93,012 76.8%
22   97,988 58.3%  67,327 40.1%
29   22,505 32.1%  46,566 66.3%
34  109,307 63.0%  59,510 34.3%
36  102,697 63.7%  54,876 34.1%

19Sep/110

Hope for the Congressional and State Rep Maps

DOJ clears the SBOE and State Senate map. Look for some pushback on the Congressional and State House map by Wednesday. As always, Michael Li is your go-to source (also via @mcpli).

22Jun/110

A Passing Redistricting Two-fer

Lest I be accused of falling asleep on the job - or, more appropriately, of doing a job instead of blogging on all the cool, fancy redistricting news that's out there - here's a couple of links to note from Kuff over the past few days:

1. Harris County redistricting ... finally. Looks like the biggest hangup of them all was fitting things into the tight Gene Locke/Richard Murray schedule for redistricting. HISD was quick work, HCC was a bit involved. I'm curious to see how this round compares for them. I'll be shocked if it's not interesting.

2. Election Math on the Congressional Map. The two big targets for Dems are obviously CD23 and CD14 (depending on whether the pre-2010 world that that district existed in is ever re-creatable). On the flipside, I'd watch for CD15 and CD20 should they ever become open seats or if someone gets caught direct-messaging photos of their crotch.

And with that ... back to work.

15Jun/110

Congressional Redistricting: Third Reading in the House

I'm belatedly getting into the floor discussion on the third reading for the Congressional redistricting map. The first item that I land on involves an effort to add the General Motors plant to Joe Barton's district. It's on par with the debate yesterday to add a future ExxonMobil headquarters to Ted Poe's district. In this case, it puts Redistricting chair Burt Solomons against some in his own party who are trying to carry a little water for their friendly/hometown members of Congress. In fact, Solomons unloads a bit of criticism on Barton for trying to work outside of the process that's been going on (a likely reference to the Jodie Laubenberg map released during the regular session). In this case, the amendment is put forth by Rep. Zedler and goes to a final vote, going down 115-21.

As is common for third reading, amendments are harder to pass, so Solomons calls for a final vote. And with that, the map passes 93-47. On to the Governor's desk ... and then the courts.

15Jun/114

Congressional Redistricting: LULAC’s Lawsuit

» KSAT: LULAC Files Redistricting Lawsuit

There are lawsuits aplenty that have already been filed, but I'd rank LULAC's as likeliest to make it's way further down the process than others. Here's the nub of their argument ...

LULAC filed its legal challenge in the U.S. District Court's Western District of Texas. The suit alleges the state is trying to take away votes from Latinos.

Vera said the first issue they have is with the 2010 U.S. Census. According to Vera, the census did not provide an accurate count of Latinos in Texas. Vera argued if the count was accurate, Texas would have gained a fifth Congressional district, so the lawsuit seeks to have those numbers thrown out and an accurate count provided.

The second part of the suit alleges violations of the Voting Rights Act, specifically that Texas Republicans drawing the new maps are packing Latino voters into districts in disproportionate numbers.

LULAC also argued that as it stands now, the redistricting takes away one Latino opportunity district without replacing it with another one.

I'm not a lawyer, nor am I going to pretend to be one on a blog or television. But I don't seem to recall "bad census numbers" ever being a very successful grounds for lawsuits such as this. But the second leg of their suit should have better grounds. To the extent that I'm willing to game this out, I'd suspect that DOJ takes the most offense with the treatment of DFW minorities and the courts take the most issue with things like the CD27/CD34 swap. Depending on how CD23 measures out in terms of retrogression, I can see that one being an issue in either setting.

The reason I'd argue LULAC lawsuits are generally stronger is that they aren't as tainted by incumbent members of Congress who try to throw in partisan aspects of redistricting, which generally don't hold up in court. I'd have to review how the DFW situation of 2003 held up in court last time around. At that time, it had the double benefit of being a strong community of interest argument that went hand-in-hand with an incumbent's argument (in this case, Martin Frost). Obviously, the fracturing held up in the courthouse round at that time despite the fact that the career attorneys in DOJ found the fracturing to be out of VRA compliance. All that to say that if there's any lawsuit that expends a great deal of time trying to argue over the division of Travis County in the latest Congressional plan, I don't see it winning. It may be ugly, it may be blatantly partisan, it may be unfair as all get-out. But it's legal.

Likewise, coalition districts will be harder to defend than true, 50%-plus single-minority districts. And coalition districts that rely on Anglo voters (like Doggett's) with an overall majority Anglo population would seem to me to be out of the question unless there's an incredibly favorable selection of judges in multiple rounds of appeals.

So keep an eye on LULAC's lawsuit as it may be one of the strongest challenges in the courts to the present map.

14Jun/115

Congressional Redistricting: The Floor Debate (and liveblog)

Long time, no blog. I'm shaking off a sinus infection that I think was inspired by Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavs and I can no longer remember the last time I shaved, so I'm feeling a little in common with Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. What can I say, dual playoff seasons get a little weird around here.

In any event, today is the big floor debate for the House passage of the Congressional redistricting map. Expect some fights but since the votes are already in, the bulk of this day will be spent laying the groundwork for future court cases and some minor perfecting amendments. Here's the slate of maps that are presently loaded on the Lege Council's site ...

C149 - House Committee Plan
C152 - Hughes (1,5 amendment)
C153 - Riddle (2,8 amendment)
C154 - Turner/Davis (statewide substitute)
C155 - Turner/Davis (statewide substitute)
C157 - Johnson (5, 30, 32 amendment)
C161 - Hilderbran (statewide substitute)
C163 - Martinez Fischer (statewide substitute)
C164 - Martinez Fischer (statewide substitute)
C165 - Martinez Fischer (statewide substitute)
C166 - Dukes (statewide substitute)
C167 - Hilderbran (statewide proposal)
C168 - Alvarado (Harris County region amendment)
C169 - Geren (12, 26 amendment)
C170 - Solomons (West Texas amendment)
C172 - Kuempel (15, 27, 34, 35 amendment)

I think we can all predict the outcomes of most of these - the Dem statewide substitutes will go down, as will Eric Johnson's amendment to the Dallas-area districts. I've only had a chance to look at Riddle's amendment and it seems minor enough that I suspect it will be tacked on. Hughes' amendment just carves up Wood County differently, so it probably has a shot of being accepted. But I've got no idea what to make of Harvey Hilderbran's statewide substitute. I can't image that it will pass, but I'm just curious what it does differently. Nothing jumps out at me, so it's time to do a little homework before the House bell rings at 10am.

Early Update: From Texas Insider ...

Texas Insider learned late this afternoon that as part of tomorrow’s Congressional Redistricting Debate in the Texas House of Representatives, a complete substitute will be offered to the Seliger-Solomons Map, known as Plan C149 – or C.S.S.B. 4. House Committee Report. The newly crafted map, known as Plan C161, addresses previous concerns regarding retrogression in Districts 20 & 29, as well as creates a new Hispanic District, paranthetically CD 35, which the House Redistricting Committee did not.

C.S.S.B. is legislative parlance for Committee Substitute to Senate Bill, in this instance, 4.

Plan C161 would be offered as an amendment to the Committee’s plan, C.S.S.B. 4.

According to sources, Plan C161 includes:

  • 26 Republican Congressional Seats
  • 10 Democratic Congressional Districts
  • and is drawn in a manner that will withstand the all-but-assumed court challenge expect predict will be filed over retrogression issues.
  • Pre-floor bell update: Some early observations on what the Hilderbran substitute does differently in Harris County ...

    - Downtown goes back to CD18 ... it had been in CD29 in the committee map.
    - The Medical Center goes back to Culberson ... it had been in CD18 in the committee map.
    - The CD7/CD18 divide north of Southwest Freeway remains at Shepherd, which means that Culberson would lose a good chunk of geography that is in the Metro rail line planned for the area.
    - CD7 gains back a little bit more of Meyerland and - even more surprisingly - parts of Gulfton. Let's just say that when I shop at the Fiesta on Hillcroft & Bellaire, I will have traversed into his district.
    - The Heights is a little more whole within CD18.
    - CD29 goes back out to Baytown, picking up more Ship Channel and loses the southern extension beyond Hobby Field.
    - Just beyond the Houston area, CD14 sheds much of Beaumont, which should make the election numbers better for Ron Paul and still remain safely GOP in the new CD36 that now includes Beaumont and Lufkin.

    10:00 ... the opening bell has rung and we're waiting for all the schoolchildren to get to their desks. In the meantime, a quick perusal of the DFW area didn't have anything obvious that I picked up on. But they did take out the Lake Como community from CD26 and placed it into CD12. If nothing else, it removes one point that Marc Veasey would easily ding the previous map on. But the broader dilution and fracturing of minority communities in Tarrant and Dallas counties remains.

    10:20 ... formalities and whatnot (and proclamations for state baseball playoffs) going on on the floor. In the meantime, here's some hot, steamy election math that I'm guessing Aaron Pena is drooling over in the C161 plan ...

    CD15 - 2010
    Perry     46.5% ... White     51.3%
    Dewhurst  50.2% ... LCT       46.6%
    Abbott    55.1% ... Radnofsky 42.9%
    Patterson 49.6% ... Uribe     47.9%
    
    CD15 - 2008
    McCain    44.1% ... Obama     55.0%
    Cornyn    42.2% ... Noriega   55.7%
    Wainright 39.7% ... Houston   57.6%
    Price     39.8% ... Strawn    57.7%

    That doesn't mean terribly much for Pena in the upcoming election and it's probably an open question as to whether the 2010 scenario is replicable in the short term. But it's as good a map as I think can be drawn for Pena interests. That said, let's at least see where he lives today. And for good measure, here's the open district that's in the new C161 ...

    CD34 - 2010
    Perry     46.3% ... White     51.3%
    Dewhurst  50.0% ... LCT       46.2%
    Abbott    56.0% ... Radnofsky 41.5%
    Patterson 48.5% ... Uribe     48.5%
    
    CD34 - 2008
    McCain    43.8% ... Obama     55.2%
    Cornyn    41.2% ... Noriega   56.4%
    Wainright 36.8% ... Houston   59.4%
    Price     37.5% ... Strawn    59.3%

    10:27 ... gametime. SB4 being laid out by Solomons. Looks like Rep. Menendez is the one credited for getting some SSVR and HCVAP improvements in districts like CD20 and CD23. The plan under discussion is C170, so we're not yet up to the more mysterious C161. There's already a flurry of amendments-to-the-amendments. Mike Villarreal interrupts Solomons to ask him to restate the improvements that his amendment makes over the committee map.

    CD35 ... 51.9% HCVAP
    CD20 ... SSVR goes to 56.3%
    CD23 ... 54.8% HCVAP

    Geren's amendment (C169) goes through on voice vote. Keumpel's amendment (C172) is withdrawn. Hughes' amendment (C152) goes through on voice vote.

    Riddle's amendment (C153) gets an amendment-to-the-amendment (C176) which is approved on voice vote. Solomons notes that there has been some disagreement over the need for this change. It involves 28 people and contains the Exxon world HQ. Solomons moves to table, says it's overreaching by Congressman Poe. Rep. Fletcher takes the mic to say that a new district (CD8) coming into Harris County seems like overreaching to him. Rep. Harless follows up and Rep. Dutton seems supportive. Could be a Harris Co. delegation vs the world moment on the floor. The amendment (#5) goes down 77-54.

    Rep. Johnson's C157 up next. A quick withdrawal. Rep. Alvarado's C168 follows. Both of her Harris County Hispanic districts are under 50% SSVR. In fact, CD29 clocks in at 35.5% and 35.3% nonSuspense SSVR, while CD36 clocks in at 42.5% and 42.4%. Anglo numbers look low enough so that I don't doubt that both districts would elect candidates of choice. But it poses a very interesting question as to what numerical goals are in order for Hispanic opportunities in Harris County. Solomons notes the retrogression in CD29 as a reason for opposition at the same time that the new district is not a Hispanic majority district. Alvarado regroups by describing the districts as coalition districts. Marc Veasey follows up from the back mic, noting that there are other factors that are looked, namely election performance. The motion to table succeeds 94-47.

    Rep. Johnson's C157 is now back up with an amendment to an amendment (C177). It's acceptable to the author, and hence adopted, as amended. Minor tweaks to Dallas-area districts is all that I see.

    Rep. Veasey's C121 is up. It's the same plan that didn't make it through committee. Veasey references an article in D Magazine about the growth in the African-American population in DFW. Not sure if this is the one, but it's at least a fascinating read on demographics if not. The plan goes down 93-46.

    Rep. Alonzo's C142 is next. It's another plan that failed in committee. Some lengthy back & forth, much of which had been covered in committee. It goes down 96-49.

    Rep. Turner's C155 up next. Definitely a very different map. Goes down 93-49.

    Rep. TMF's C163 up next. Goes down 92-48. We're definitely getting into the grinding phase of amendments and substitutes by now. A lot of the arguments are starting to sound alike.

    Rep. Johnsons' C157 is mentioned as next up. It's a move to reconsider. C178 is the substitute amendment to this. Solomons says it's acceptable. It's adopted.

    Rep. TMF's C164 follows. Goes down 94-48. TMF follows with C168. If I'm anywhere near correct on reviewing this, it looks like we've only got Dawnna Dukes' substitute and then we'll find out what's in store with Hilderbran's artwork. TMF's final plan goes down 95-47.

    Rep. Dukes comes up with C166. It's another take that adds a new Hispanic district to Harris, a true new district to the Valley and something like the MALDEF Hispanic seat to DFW. Of some interest is the amount of Tarrant County in CD6 and a Gulf Coast District 34 that seems like it would be marginal-to-safe GOP. Farenthold's CD27 would lose some GOP turf in Nueces, so he'd be toast. Ted Poe would also be pushed quite a bit outside of Harris County. Interesting in the way it combines some of the known goals (the MALDEF DFW seat, for instance), with some new ideas. One item that comes to mind in looking at this effort is that I wonder why nobody seems to have gone after the three big West TX GOP districts. The plan goes down 93-45.

    Hilderbran's C161 is finally up. CDs 15, 20, and 28 are his biggest "concerns" since the SSVR don't seem strong enough. Given how the previous discussions have gone today, I can't imagine that Hilderbran has enough support to get his map approved. There's already a line of attack from a duo of rural Reps who express their dislike. Rep. Villarreal piggy-backs by pointing out that there is no whole district within Bexar County. I'll give Hilderbran this much ... it's an interesting map in that it's different than a lot of others. But it's also ugly as sin. It may make some amount of sense in that he's trying to head off some of the legal challenges he sees in store for the map currently on the floor. But I don't see how this creation avoids any challenges. C181 is offered as an amendment-to-the-amendment, that leaves the Hispanic numbers alone (in CD23) while improving the McCain numbers in the district (from 48% to 52%). TMF rises against. So if there's any support out there for Hilderbran's work, I'm curious to know where it comes from. Unless he withdraws it, we'll find out soon enough. Solomons up now, motioning to table. Hilderbran withdraws it before it reaches a vote. That concludes the amendments.

    We're now finally addressing the bill itself. Rep. Dukes is up first. Rep. Alonzo follows. Expect the map to go down along party lines, so the rest of the "again' its" are as follows: Veasey ... and that's about it. Solomons is up to close, and the line at the back mic regoups. TMF is up first. Senfronia and Veasey are right behind him. The perfunctory pre-legal arguments have been made.

    The bill moves on to third reading 93-48. I'm guessing the vote for that is tomorrow. Time for a late lunch now.

    10Jun/110

    Lost Friday Aggresposting

    Full couple of days ahead with day job stuff. But a few quick links for recommended reading ...

    » Off the Kuff: House Redistricting committee approves modified Congressional map ... numbers and electoral possibilities abound. I should get around to mapping, number-crunching, and more by Sunday. Hope that's before the House takes it up on the floor. The Trib also has a few extra insights from behind the scenes. It looks like the thinking behind the CD20 fix, from Dems, was that it was really aimed at weakening CD23.

    » Chron: HISD can improve performance by realigning priorities (Mary Nesbitt, Ed Klein, Lillian Villarreal, Sue Dimenn Deigaard, Andy Chan, Jay Aiyer) ... the lede:

    The Houston Independent School District is at a crossroads in its direction and vision for the future. The most recent Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) testing data shows that overall student performance is stagnant at most HISD schools, has declined at others and has improved at a few. Fewer HISD schools will be designated as "exemplary" or "recognized," while at least nine more schools are now deemed academically unacceptable.

    And speaking of HISD, they wrapped up their public hearings last night. I didn't make it, but I'm told that it concluded after about 30 minutes. That's pretty speedy work.

    HCC's board meeting on Thursday looks to be the next step for that round of redistricting and it truly is one of the more intriguing redistricting efforts in town. I'll have a recap of the Wednesday night hearing, which included Sen. Mario Gallegos calling for a new Hispanic district in HCC. But that'll have to wait till time frees up on Sunday.

    Lastly, the Empty Lot Primary has the following early numbers for candidates who's signs have been spotted and sent in ....

    Brian Cweren .. 19
    Eric Dick ..... 14
    Jenifer Pool ..  6
    Marc Campos ...  1

    I'm told that I can expect some new candidates showing up on the list next week. Keep it clean, y'all.

    9Jun/115

    Congressional Redistricting: House Hearing Live-Blog

    Things are now underway with the House side of the Congressional Redistricting side of things. A curious opening note is that Rep. Geren was brought in to explain that this hearing was being broadcast live despite it being a "formal hearing" and that this would not represent the fact that other "formal hearings" would be broadcast live.

    Three substitutes are going to be layed out. The initial layout is going to be the Veasey/Alonzo Plan C121 by Marc Veasey. You can go back to these links for the background on this plan. Veasey's layout today is very much the same as what he stated in his press conference. Veasey references this article on the reversal of migration of African-Americans to Chicago's inner city. Looks like a good read for later in the day.

    Jerry Madden lines up for the first crack at Veasey's map. He's a little miffed at Richardson being placed in a district that goes to Tarrant County. Veasey's contention is that it is still a suburban community of interest, while Madden is making more of the fact that it just goes into Tarrant County. The inclusion of Plano also seems to be a part of Madden's greivance.

    Mike Villarreal balances out some of Madden's opening fire by going over a few points of agreement. Villarreal notes the creation of the I35 district between Austin and San Antonio that corresponds to the one the Solomons/Seliger plan. The point being made is that such a district need not be used as a tool to end an incumbent's career.

    Roberto Alonzo and Carol Alvarado piggyback with some favorable comments and questions aimed at putting some basic info on the public record.

    Motion to adopt is made and Solomons adds some concluding remarks about the incumbent pairings in order to have an official point against on record. The motion, predictably, falls along party lines ... 5-12.

    Carol Alvarado now lays out Plan C126. This plan looks to resolve the main difference between MALDEF and Veasey, which is the inclusion of a second Hispanic district in Houston. Of some interest to me, CD9 included the MALDEF concept of sending the district out to Richmond. It also makes Gene Green my congressman. I've said it before, I'll say it again ... I like that second concept a lot.

    Harvey Hildebran takes on the plan first. His question is whether VRA requires the creation of new minority district. It's a pretty relevant point. Mike Villarreal brings up the Gingles test, to which Hildebran throws up a cloud of dust that "it's complicated" due to whether you use Total Pop vs Voting Age Pop; what role population diffusion plays; etc .... Larry Phillips piggybacks on Hildebran's point by asking for SSVR on both of the new Hispanic districts that Alvarado creates. Both are under 50% SSVR, which Alvarado defends on grounds that election data demonstrate that each would operate as Hispanic districts. Phillips' point is in his pivot of comparing those districts with the claims of retrogression in the committee chair's plan (which will be C144). With the exception of trying to avoid defending CD27's obvious retrogression, Phillips is obviously hoping to point out that CD23 is still over 50% SSVR. He's not gotten to that point, however. Jerry Madden also notes the same Plano-Richardson-Southlake district in Veasey's map that he doesn't like.

    Motion is made to adopt. Solomons concludes with a point that his concerns with the pairings in the plan. It goes down along party lines in any event - 5-11. Jimmie Don Aycock almost votes yes until he's woken up.

    Roberto Alonzo offers up his substitute (C142). It looks as if his DFW minority districts are much cleaner than the MALDEF version. The new Harris County district is pretty interesting. It doesn't break apart the East End/North Side combo that presently serves as the basis for CD29. The Travis County situation also looks cleaner, giving CD25 the bulk of the western side of the county, while a new district would be a much stronger Bexar-based district that doesn't go into Travis.

    The Harris County district is particularly weak - 51% VAP Hispanic and 23.4% SSVR. I'm going to have to request the election history for this plan just out of curiosity, but it would appear that this would be the means of recreating the old CD25 that covered much of the southern part of the county in order to create a coalition that elected the likes of Mike Andrews, Ken Bentsen, and Chris Bell.

    Motion to adopt fails along party lines - 5-12.

    Burt Solomons now lays out his C144 He says he tries to alleviate the fracturing of Hispanic population in Tarrant. He also says he deals with the dilution of SSVR in CD20. Those are big ones and it sounds as if Solomons tries to get SSVR dilution off the table for the purpose of inevitable lawsuits. The election math in CD20 will be something to look for since it was clearly a target in the earlier drafts. Marc Veasey has a brief moment of schadenfreude by pointing out that CD24 places Madden's preferred Richardson into Tarrant County. No word from Madden. Veasey also asks why his hometown area of Lake Como is included in CD26. Solomons offers up that it was "just how the numbers worked" ... which is bunk. It's clearly there to fracture as many minority areas as they think they can get away with in the Ft. Worth area. Solomons continually suggests he needed to make sure the deviations "worked out." The thing is that the deviation on most districts is absolutely zero. So there's clearly room to be under/overpopulated, even if only by some ridiculously small amount.

    Dan Branch leads off with supportive comments. Solomons follows by saying he thinks it's advantageous for urban areas to have more Congressmen rather than fewer. Mike Villarreal follows with some balance, suggesting that more opportunity districts were warranted. Jim Keffer offers his take that rural areas being split is good. I think we've identified the pro-gerrymander caucus now. Carol Alvarado echos Villarreal's point that more minority opportunity districts are warranted. Harvey Hildebran follows up with a question about differences between the initial Solomons/Seliger map and the Solomon's plan on the board now. Hildebran is also concerned about the improvements made in CD20. Your's to decide if that's a softball for Solomons to put some items on record as addressing minority concerns, or whether Hildebran is genuinely concerned with San Antonio-based minority districts.

    Joe Pickett notes a few oddly-configured districts. CD26 in Denton/Tarrant gets some mention. He asks if anyone has actually drawn a map without regard to special interests. That answer would be yes ... AJ Pate's C106 (and also Bill Owens' C110 and C111). He also asks if anyone has provided maps showing population concentrations. Ahem.

    The plan is voted on along party lines.

    Up next are some correcting amendments. Todd Hunter's C146 shifts Wharton and Colorado counties between districts and makes some population adjustments in Harris, it seems. Veasey notes the ordering of today's proposals. He asks if Hunter knew about C144 beforehand in order to correct it. It's an interesting attack since the committee just rejected a slew of plans preferred by minority members before the chair's substitute. Hunter's position is that the discussions to switch those two counties began before Solomons' substitute since the splits were being seen in the Senate map. The issue is whether minority members were allowed to consult on the plan as it was being developed, which will be a point for courts to consider. The defense in this case seems to be that if there was an amendment, it would have been treated similarly to Hunter's, yet the minority-preferred plans were full statewide substitutes. The timing of layouts in this committee hearing should be a good point for the courts to consider regarding the input toward creating minority districts. In any event, the amendment passes 13-4.

    Jerry Madden offers C147 as an amendment. It sounds like much of what this does is smooth out some precinct splits in Collin in order to minimize the number of voting precincts. Sounds good and I wish this was done more. As it is, I've got no shortage of examples of how Harris County will sprout new precincts after all the redistricting is done. Madden follows with a C148 that fixes some issues in C147 (your classic "amendment to the amendment"), no plan posted online yet for that. The motion for amending passes 13-4. The motion to pass the amended amendment passes 13-4.

    So the full version is essentially C144 with replacements from amendments C146 and C148. Motion is to assemble all of that into the committee substitute (approved 11-5). After some back & forth between Veasey & Solomons, the plan is approved 11-5. No surprises, but a good glimpse at what's in store for the legal challenges. If Solomons mentioned when the plan would be taken up on the floor, I missed it.

    That's all folks ....