FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2000
AUSTIN, Texas--As a recently appointed member of the Senate Committee on Redistricting, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, is looking forward to his involvement in charting electoral districts for the Texas House and Senate, Congress and the State Board of Education. He will also have the opportunity to contribute to the Census 2000 debates.
On Wednesday, Feb.9, 2000, the Texas House and Senate Redistricting Committees will hold a joint hearing in Abilene to discuss the 2000 Census and hear public testimony on the redistricting process that the state legislature will undertake in the 2001 regular session. Future public hearings are also planned for Lubbock, El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, with towns to be announced for the East Texas and South Texas areas.
"Texas is expected to have grown by 20 percent between 1990 and 2000, from 17 million to 20 million people, according to recent Census Bureau studies. In the Rio Grande Valley, Cameron County's projected growth is from 260,120 to 330,000, or 27 percent, and Hidalgo County from 383,545 to 550,000, or 43 percent, for the same time period," explained Sen. Lucio, who was appointed to the Committee on Jan. 27, 2000. "The tremendous growth in population in the Rio Grande Valley will certainly have an impact on our decisions of creating and re-charting district lines. I am excited to be on this Committee as we review what Census 2000 will mean for Texas and as we determine districts to ensure that the needs of all Texans are fully met and well represented."
Through the 2000 Census count, the detailed population data necessary for redistricting will be provided, and this data must be delivered to the states by April 1, 2001 according to federal law. Since it is highly unlikely that the data will be available any earlier, and since the legislature will sine die on May 28 of that year, there is insufficient time to tackle redistricting in that time slot.
The Committee hearings are designed to meet the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act, requiring Texas district lines to be pre-cleared by the federal government. Sen. Lucio said, "Any redistricting decisions must be based on the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Jan. 24, 2000, that the Justice Department must approve district changes as long as they do not result in districts in which minority representation would be any worse than before. This, at least, is the minimum, but my goal is to ensure that we create the best possible districts that are fair and ensure full representation for the voters at both the state and federal levels."
Lt. Gov. Rick Perry named 11 other Senators in addition to Sen. Lucio. They are Senators Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, co-chairman; Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, co-chairman; Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin; Frank Madla, D-San Antonio; Royce West, D-Dallas; Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Florence Shapiro, R-Plano; Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; Steve Ogden, R-Bryan; and Mike Jackson, R-La Porte.