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Between the Lines: New Texas Map Clears Second Legislative Hurdle

The Texas House passed a new Congressional map this week, moving the proposal for the state’s newly drawn 36 House districts to the state Senate.

The Senate will either move to take a final vote on the map, which includes some minor changes to the Congressional redistricting bill that it passed earlier this month, or proceed to a conference committee to cut a deal to pass the final version before sending it to GOP Gov. Rick Perry’s desk.

However, the Congressional map is widely expected to end up in court, and Lone Star State Democrats have already taken steps to pursue legal action over the new boundaries, which they say are unfair to minority groups and violate the Voting Rights Act.

The proposed map creates four new House seats in the state and makes some substantial changes to the current 32 districts — including putting Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) into a predominantly Republican district. Doggett has said he’s looking at running in a newly drawn majority-Hispanic neighboring district that runs from south of Austin to San Antonio.

At least one state lawmaker has expressed interest in running in a newly drawn Houston-area district. State Rep. James White’s current legislative district and home area is centered in the new 36th House district.

“I’ve had people ask me, and I’m remaining prayerful and thoughtful. I’ve been an Army officer, so whenever my national government has called, I’ve answered that call,” the Republican told Roll Call in a phone interview last week. “If I would have the opportunity, I would like to have that conversation with people in southeast Texas and also in D.C.”

Michigan: Republicans to Release Their Plan Friday

Republicans will release their proposal for the state’s new Congressional map Friday, according to the Detroit News.

The Wolverine State lost a single House seat following reapportionment, and the newspaper reported that Republicans who control the Michigan mapmaking process were reviewing a plan in late May to move Reps. Sander Levin (D) and Gary Peters (D) into the same district.

If that’s the case, whoever wins the party’s nomination in that proposed district will likely have a tough general election race as well. According to tabulations of that proposed 9th district obtained by Roll Call, the north Detroit suburban seat would be competitive. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder would have carried the district with 59 percent in 2010, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) would have taken 41 percent in the 2008 presidential race.

Virginia: McDonnell Says Process Is Better This Go-Round

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said in an interview this week that his state’s redistricting discussions are more cooperative than what he witnessed as a state Delegate the last time around.

McDonnell told Roll Call that the process is already going better than the one that embroiled lawmakers in 2001 and 2002. A bitter battle over the new lines prompted Democrats to spar with then-Gov. Mark Warner (D). It also snared the state Republican Party in an eavesdropping scandal that depleted its coffers for years.

The Legislature is in a special session to deal with redistricting because there will be legislative elections this fall. Lawmakers already passed new state legislative lines but are huddling in a conference committee to negotiate the final details of a new Congressional map. With split chambers — the GOP controls the House and Democrats narrowly control the Senate — there are competing plans that must be smoothed out before McDonnell can consider them for final approval.

“The level of cooperation seems to be a lot better,” he said, noting that the legislative lines passed with bipartisan majorities. “I’m hopeful the same thing will happen with the Congressional map.”

McDonnell stressed he wants to see a map that reduces the number of districts that split precincts.

“I just want them to do things legally,” he said.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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