Texans who want to offer opinions on the state’s political boundaries don’t have to do it here in Austin.
The opportunity is being expanded to other cities. State Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, said today he wants "broad input" on the voting maps’ deficiencies and how to fix them.
So the panel is slated to hear testimony in Dallas this Thursday, in San Antonio on June 10 and Houston on June 12. This is a tentative schedule and details of the meetings are not confirmed. But they'll take place even if Gov. Rick Perry’s call for this session is on the interim maps as they are.
"Certainly the prerogative of the Legislature I think takes precedence," he said. "We need to do what we need to do and then the Governor will hopefully have a bill in front of him and he can choose to sign a bill or not."
"We're going to evaluate all of the suggestions," he said. Rep. Darby is also open to an amendment that would address the concerns of the El Paso House delegation, rather than host a hearing there.
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, is one of the panel members. She says Attorney General Greg Abbott should have spoken to the Department of Justice long ago on the inadequate voting districts made by the 2011 Legislature.
"Those issues could have been ironed out by now and we probably wouldn’t have spent $1 million trying to get it done, plus all the money we’re going to spend now," she said. "I think that if intelligent maps were to prevail, we could make the changes we know the federal courts has already told us we need to make on the maps. If it does not happen...we'll all be back in court fighting for those things to take place."
Rep. Darby said the Senate is considering a hearing in Corpus Christi. In the meantime, the full House is recessed until June 17 and the session will be over June 26.