Reviving Bipartisanship

Can we bring a stop to these congressional redistricting debacles?

Sen. Jeff Wentworth
Sen. Jeff Wentworth (Photo by John Anderson)

Could we bring a stop to these decennial (and sometimes more) congressional redistricting debacles? Not bloody likely.

Trying to show the way, however, are Repub­lican Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio (whose district includes part of Austin) and Democrats Rep. Donna Howard of Austin and Sen. José Rodríguez of El Paso.

Wentworth has umpteen times over the past couple of decades filed legislation to take congressional redistricting out of the partisan hands of the Lege and turn it over to a bipartisan commission. And it has failed that many times, including in the regular session that just ended. But Wentworth has brought it back in the special session as Senate Bill 22. The commission would be composed of non-officeholders and noncandidates – four Republicans and four Democrats appointed by the Lege, with a ninth member selected by the eight.

Rodríguez filed a bill (SB 32) that would establish a set of principles for congressional redistricting, with Howard filing the House companion (House Bill 65). The pair also filed resolutions that would do the same thing (Senate Joint Resolution 1 and House Joint Resolution 12) but would need voter approval as a constitutional amendment before taking effect.

The Rodriguez/Howard bill would require that "communities of interest" be kept intact, districts be compact and contiguous, unnecessary division of cities and counties be avoided, and partisan data not be used.

Now, place a bet on whether they'll pass. If they do, the payout will be huge.

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Congressional Redistricting, Jeff Wentworth, Donna Howard, Jose Rodriguez

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