redistricting

Austin
8:58 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/15/12: Execution Drug Shortage, Redistricting Drama, Texas/OU Battles ACL

Texas' Huntsville Prison, home to the United State's most active execution chamber.
Photo courtesy Mark Britain, flickr.com/8427230@N04

Texas Prisons Hard Up for Execution Drugs?

Texas state prisons are running low on a key execution drug, according to a report released Tuesday. According to the Austin American-Statesman, state prison officials say there is enough of the drug to continue with six executions that are scheduled over the next four months.

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Politics
4:06 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Redistricting Experts Struggle to fix Maps, Elections

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Still no maps, still no date.

The federal judges who asked attorneys to negotiate a deal on political maps for this year's elections instead got a day of explanations and arguments about why no such agreement has been made.

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Politics
8:19 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Sports and the Texas Redistricting Battle

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington, addresses BP chief executive Tony Hayward at an oil spill hearing in Washington.
Image courtesy YouTube

Political redistricting is for real nerds, for those sometimes overly serious people who have spent a great deal of time learning and thinking about something that’s outside the day-to-day experience or interest of the rest of us.

For the political lawyers, the subject comes with layers of statutes and case law and the certainty that one or more cases will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s nerd heaven, you know: dense, complicated, both dull and important and loaded with the chance to get the public’s full attention, if only for a second, every 10 years.

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Politics
5:50 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Redistricting Judges to Lawyers: Get to Work

graphic by: Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

With hearings on redistricting scheduled for next week and deadlines for April primaries pending, a panel of federal judges told lawyers Friday afternoon to redouble their efforts to reach a quick settlement on interim political maps for the state's congressional and legislative elections.

That's not the first time they've told the lawyers to talk, but negotiations stalled this week when the state and some plaintiffs reached an agreement that several other plaintiffs didn't like.

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Politics
1:37 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Slow Redistricting Lowers Clout of Texas Voters

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

In a parallel political universe — one in which redistricting maps were in place and elections were on schedule — Texas would be getting national attention right now.

The four survivors in the Republican presidential primary race would be hitting all the stops on the barbecue circuit, wearing jeans and boots, raising money, posing for pictures and saying remarkable things to be played over and over on TV.

Instead, the earliest possible date for our primary elections will come after 34 states and territories have already spoken, either through primaries or caucuses. It could come later, leaving Texas to join 13 states that hold presidential primaries in May and June.

Just think of it. If the federal courts had approved the maps drawn by the Legislature, or those drawn by a panel of federal judges in San Antonio last year, we’d be less than two weeks away from early voting.

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Austin
8:39 am
Tue February 7, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/7/12: Redistricting Map Rejected, Sonogram Law Proceeds, UT Beats A&M

A judge has rejected the Texas Attorney General's latest redistricting proposal, launching another round of discussion and scrutiny.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Latest Redistricting Proposal Rejected

Late Monday, Federal Judge Orlando Garcia said there’s not enough support for Attorney General Greg Abbott’s proposed agreement with some of the minority groups involved in the redistricting lawsuit. He asked the groups to continue discussing the maps.

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Politics
4:12 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

AG Offers Redistricting Maps, Says Most Parties Agree

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has proposed a redistricting map several parties agree on. But others say there's "no agreement."
Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state unveiled proposed redistricting maps, saying some of the parties in that litigation have signed off on at least some of the lines.

Today is a court-set deadline: Three federal judges in San Antonio told the redistricting parties that they needed to reach an agreement by this afternoon to preserve any hope of holding political primaries on April 3. Those primaries, already delayed from March 6, could be pushed back to May or June if maps aren't in place in time to stage the elections.

Attorney General Greg Abbott announced he had reached agreement on most parts of the maps with most of the parties involved. Notably absent from the deal are the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the NAACP, the so-called Davis plaintiffs, and the Texas Democratic Party, who sued over the Senate district maps in Tarrant County.

In a conference call on the proposal, Abbott says he's confident that the state will have a primary in April. "The plan that is now posted — that will not be objected to by a large number of parties to this lawsuit — addresses all of the Section 5 and Section 2 objections [under the federal Voting Rights Act]," he said.

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Politics
1:49 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Agreement Reached on Redistricting Maps?

An agreement on changes to redrawn Texas congressional districts may come in time to fight off another primary postponement.
Voting images by KUT News; Texas Capitol by Lizzie Chen for KUT News; Gavel photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

Today is the deadline imposed by a San Antonio court for agreement on redrawn Texas districts. Any further delay, the court warned, and Texas’ primaries could be pushed back even further past their tentative April 3 date.

Word comes from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott this hour that an agreement may be forthcoming on “interim” maps for the 2012 elections. His office released the following statement:

“The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes changes only where necessary. The Texas Attorney General’s Office has worked with a wide range of interest groups to incorporate reasonable requests from all parties to the extent possible without compromising the will of the Texas Legislature. Even though these proposed interim maps aren’t fully supported by all interest groups, modifications have been incorporated based on requests made by all parties. Today’s maps should allow the court to finalize the interim redistricting maps in time to have elections in April,” Attorney General Abbott said.

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Texas
8:41 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/6/12: Perry's Public Return, Testing Foes Sharpen Criticism

Rick Perry and supporters in Iowa. Perry's speech tonight will mark his first public appearance since returning to Texas.
Photo by Ben Philpott for KUT News

Governor to Speak at Reagan Dinner

Gov. Rick Perry will be the keynote speaker tonight at the annual Williamson County Reagan Dinner.

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Austin
8:58 am
Tue January 31, 2012

Top Morning Stories 1/31/12: Redistricting Closing Arguments, AISD, Texas Science Gets a C

A federal court will hear closing arguments today in the Texas redistricting trial.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News

Closing Arguments in Texas Redistricting Trial

A federal court in Washington will hear closing arguments today in the Texas redistricting trial, the Associated Press reports. 

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Politics
4:53 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Will Texas Primaries Be Pushed Back Again?

The latest news in the Texas redistricting fracas is that agreement on a map may not come in time for April primaries.
Voting images by KUT News; Texas Capitol by Lizzie Chen for KUT News; Gavel photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

It looks like the April 3 date for Texas primaries – already pushed back from March – may get shoved back again.

The Associated Press reports one of the parties in the redistricting lawsuit that has delayed the primaries, Luis Vera, representing the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) says negotiations have stalled, and doesn’t anticipate talks between the state and the parties that sued to block the state’s redrawn map will be concluded in time.

The parties were given until February 6 to settle on redrawn districts, in time to preserve the April 3 primary. The groups are gathered at a conference in San Antonio in an attempt to hash out differences.

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Politics
1:59 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

What’s Happening With Texas Redistricting?

Separate from the Supreme Court's recent decision, a federal court will decide on the constitutionality of Texas redistricting.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

With a flurry of legal actions surrounding Texas redistricting efforts, it's easy to get a little confused.

The confusion, in part, can be blamed on the different courts in play, each playing a part in the battle over the districts redrawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011.

Late last week, the Supreme Court threw out re-redrawn district maps drafted by a San Antonio district court. The San Antonio court claimed the Legislature’s new districts deprived minority voters of the right to equitable representation; the Supreme Court held that while there might be such problems with the Legislature’s maps, the San Antonio court should use the Legislature’s map as a blueprint for further revision, instead of drafting their own. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has since called for the San Antonio court to conclude their work quickly.

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Politics
11:10 am
Fri January 20, 2012

How 'Reasonable' is the Supreme Court’s Redistricting Decision?

This map drawn by a San Antonio court needs to more closely resemble one passed by the Texas Legislature last year, the Supreme Court says.

It’s back to the drawing board for a San Antonio court that reworked Texas’ most recent redistricting plan.

This morning, the Supreme Court offered an opinion in a lawsuit brought by Gov. Rick Perry, representing the State of Texas, against members of a three-person San Antonio court. The San Antonio justices had rejected the Texas Legislature’s 2011 overhaul of congressional districts, drafting their own map of new districts.

At issue was Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Enforced in southern states including Texas, the act requires the Department of Justice to “preclear” election changes with the Department of Justice to ensure changes don’t adversely affect the ability of ethnic minorities to elect the candidates of their choice. The San Antonio court felt that with 2010 census numbers confirming explosive growth in Texas’ Hispanic and Latino population, the new map drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 wouldn’t meet preclearance standards.

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Politics
9:29 am
Fri January 20, 2012

Supreme Court Throws Out Redrawn District Maps

This morning, the Supreme Court asked a San Antonio court to create new electoral plans.
Photo courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:350z33

The Associated Press reports the Supreme Court has dismissed the map of Texas electoral districts redrawn by a court in San Antonio. The districts were reworked by the San Antonio court amid complaints an earlier map drawn by the Texas Legislature in 2011 created gerrymandered districts and didn’t allow minority voters the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice.

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Texas
11:56 am
Tue January 17, 2012

John Cornyn Predicts Texas Primaries Will Be Delayed Again

Sen. John Cornyn predicts Texas primaries will be pushed past their current April date.
Photo courtesy www.flickr.com/musicfirstcoalition

Sen. John Cornyn suggested yesterday that Texas many not be ready to hold its primaries on April 3.

While the political prognostication isn’t terribly surprising, considering the twists and turns the primary calendar has taken, it does have people wondering when elections will be held in Texas.

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Politics
11:38 am
Wed January 11, 2012

If the Courts Take More Time, So Will Texas Primaries

Illustration by Todd Wiseman

It takes at least two months to put a primary election together once political maps are finally drawn, and if the federal courts don't spit out a final Texas map within the next three weeks, the state's primary elections probably can't be held on April 3.

During Monday's oral arguments in the Texas redistricting case, the justices on the high court asked about holding elections on time in April or as late as June. At one point, they were working backward from the general election date next November as they tried to sort out the complexities of reworking political maps in the face of election deadlines.

"Texas has a very early primary," Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said at one point during the hearing. "Some states have them for congressional races in — in the fall, and the latest presidential primary I think is at the end of June. So why can't this all be pushed back, and wouldn't that eliminate a lot of the problems that we are grappling with in this case?"

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Politics
5:02 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Supreme Court Hears Texas Redistricting Case

Graphic by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today about Texas redistricting and now must decide whether the state's primaries must be delayed to buy time for the courts to approve new maps.

It appears that the justices have to choose between waiting for the current round of lower court proceedings to play out, pushing back the primaries or choosing an interim map to use now, keeping the primaries on schedule.

The high court took the case in December, after a panel of three federal judges in San Antonio adopted an interim map of its own making for the 2012 primary elections.

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Politics
3:33 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Lloyd Doggett Feels Barney Frank’s Pain

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) said he will not seek reelection because of redrawn political maps, a challenge that Lloyd Doggett faced until Wednesday.
Photo by World Economic Forum http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/

Austin’s Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett calls Barney Frank’s decision not to seek re-election a “great loss.”  Frank, a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, announced today that he is quitting the U.S. House of Representatives after 30 years.

Frank is departing for a reason not unfamiliar to Doggett: redistricting. Frank would have had to run in a redrawn district that retained his hometown of Newton, Mass. but included more conservative enclaves nearby.

“I don’t have to pretend to be nice to people I don’t like,” Frank said during an afternoon news conference, according to the Boston Globe.

Until last Wednesday, Doggett was facing a tough re-election battle of his own. The Republican-dominated state legislature redrew political boundaries that left Doggett in a district stretching from Austin down to San Antonio. It would be a more conservative and more Hispanic district, and Doggett would have had to compete in a Democratic primary against political up-and-comer, State Rep. Joaquin Castro.

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News Brief
7:29 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Top Morning Stories 11/28/11: AISD Public Hearing, Primary Ballot Filing Begins

AISD is holding a Public Hearing tonight from 6-8 p.m.
Photo by KUT News

AISD Public Hearing

The Austin Independent School District is holding a public hearing on its Facilities Master Plan tonight. Last week the AISD Board adopted the framework to guide how it manages its facilities, but the Board still hasn’t decided on a few key issues. There has been opposition to some parts of the plan, including a proposal to add in-district charter schools at some struggling campuses. Tonight’s hearing runs from 6 – 8 p.m. at AISD’s headquarters on West 6th Street. Speakers are limited to two minutes each, and can sign up in the Board Auditorium until 6:15 p.m.

Primary Ballot Filing Begins

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Politics
12:06 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Court Releases Congressional Maps

A panel of three federal judges in San Antonio proposed new congressional districts for Texas today. It looks like U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and state Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, won't be running against each other. The map is a proposal; the court is seeking comments from the parties by noon Friday.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White won in 12 of the new districts while losing the state. Barack Obama won in 13 of them, including in CD-23, where U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio, is the incumbent. No other Republicans are in districts where the Democrats won. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, gets a new district where Obama won in 2008 and where White won in 2010. No other Democrats got new districts where Republicans won at the top of the ticket.

Texas got four new seats as a result of reapportionment because it grew faster than other states. White and Obama won in three of them; in the new HD-36, Obama lost but White won.

Click here for a larger version of the map.

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