The House Committee on Redistricting met to hear invited and public testimony at El Paso Community College in El Paso, TX.  The purpose of the interim field hearings is to solicit public input on the 2021 legislative redistricting process and provide context to the official 2020 Census data that the 87th Legislature will receive by April 2021.

This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics the committee took up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the hearing but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.

Dr. William Serrata, El Paso Community College

  • Thank you for being here today, we are always open to hosting you here
  • We know that the 2021 session will primarily focus on redistricting but continue to hear it could be a higher ed session as well
  • Remember the 50 community colleges across the state that have the largest number of students in the state

Chairman King

  • Handouts were distributed dealing with population trends and a timeline for Redistricting (RD) and legislative process
  • Why we are here and why we are doing this:  
    •  U.S & Texas Constitutions require that every 10 years, after the decennial census, we redraw the maps for the congressional districts, SBOE, House and Senate, and courts
    • The idea is to equalize voting population within districts, so one congressional district doesn’t have significantly higher population than another
    • One person, one vote
    • We must be careful to not violate Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) which requires that a district design neither has an affect nor purpose of denying or bridging the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or language group
    • People ask for districts to remain the same based on a road, school district, city, etc. When we do this, we can unintentionally violate the VRA by splitting neighborhoods and groups
    • We are asked to follow traditional RD criteria: keep communities of interest (EPA corridors, historical districts, anything that holds a group of people together in a common community) together
    • We are also asked to try to keep districts geographically compact which can be challenging in a large state like Texas
    • The job of the committee is to adhere to redistricting law and to have an open and transparent process
    • Transparency: When the map is proposed, it is like proposed legislation. It will go through the same process as every other piece of proposed legislation. Once it is filed, it is available to the public. The public can also follow and testify at hearings. We want everyone to be able to participate to the full degree that they are able.
    • Public will be able to draw maps and submit for consideration as well as review proposed maps
    • On the timeline handout, most important day is April 1, 2020, the census day. We want everyone counted because that is in the best interest of Texas. We want citizens and non-citizens to respond to census inquiries. No one will be penalized based on citizenship status
    • Census workers will be under criminal violation if they violate privacy, information supplied to Dept of Homeland Security is redacted
    • Census count determines federal dollars for Texas, congressional districts, and helps us figure out how to distribute state services and resources, etc.
    • January 12, 2021: the date that the legislature next formally convenes. This is when the committee will be formally organized to put together maps for the next 10 years.
    • The next date is the day the census bureau gets the final data to the legislature. It could be late February or March. We can’t really start drawing the maps until then.
    • May 31, 2021: the day the legislature adjourns. We really only have from March 1-May to draw the maps, take them through House and Senate, bring before the public, and get them passed. It is a short window which is why it is important to have these hearings now.
    • Invited Testimony: Texas State Demographer and The Legislative Council

Invited Testimony

Dr. Lila Valencia, Texas Demographic Center (Texas State Demographer)

  • Has PowerPoint Presentation with slides available on
  • Presentation focuses on TDC projections.
  • Even past year figures were projected figures based on 2010 census
  • Will be different than Census Bureau (CB) official count from 2020, different from CB estimates released through 2018, different than data TLC is releasing that is based on 2014-2018 community survey
  • All figures are closely aligned and the best figures we can provide
  • We conduct census count to allocate congressional counts, electoral college votes, and to redraw district boundaries for changes in population
  • Shows slide on numbers for 2018:
    • Texas has added more people than any other state in the country since about 2016
    • In 2018 we were at about 28.7 million. In 2019 we were at 28,995,000. We have grown 3.8 million people between 2010 and 2019. Growth rate (GR) is 15.3%. We have one of the highest rates of growth (the 2019 numbers are not reflected on slide)
    • CA and MN are estimated to be staying the same or losing one congressional seat. Texas is projected to gain 3 congressional seats after the 2020 census.
  • Referring to slide: The Census Bureau and Texas Demographic Center population projections are very close so our 2020 figures should be a good estimate of what we will see in 2020
  • Population 29,677,668 in 2020. 197,851 approximate house district size in 2020
  • Referring to slide: Geographic distribution of Texas
  • Maps from 2010 and 2020 are fairly similar.
  • Population Triangle: Dallas/Ft. Worth, Harris County, San Antonio/Austin, where we are projecting to see more population growth in 2020
  • Referring to slide: Population projections from 2010-2020 for El Paso metro area and the 2 counties, El Paso County and Hudspeth County.
  • El Paso is one of the most populated areas outside the population triangle and is the 22nd largest city in the U.S.
  • Referring to slide: Projected numeric change in counties in state of Texas
  • Many counties will experience growth but some will experience decline from 2010-2020. El Paso county growth of about 75,000 people. Hudspeth county is projected to lose about 100 people
  • Referring to slide: Map shows projected percent change, indicates rate of growth without information about volume
  • Suburban ring areas of urban core areas (Dallas, Austin, etc.) are showing higher growth than the actual cities
  • Referring to slide: Same figures stated numerically for the 2 counties (El Paso and Hudspeth) from 2010-2020
  • El Paso County increasing by 75,000 people and 9.4% increase
  • Hudspeth county declining 2.2% and losing about 100 people
  • Referring to slide: chart of population projections produced for Texas
  • We look at mortality, fertility, and migration trends
  • Projecting state will reach population of 29.7 million by 2020
  • Referring to slide: We do population projections by age, race, and ethnicity
  • These are population projections broken down by race in the state from 2010-2020.
  • Non-Hispanic white will increase to 12.1M by 2020
  • Hispanic population will have more rapid growth, increasing to 11.8M
  • Non-Hispanic Black, increasing to 3.6M
  • Non-Hispanic Asian, increasing to over 1.5M (fastest growing subset of population)
  • Non-Hispanic Other (primarily 2 or more races) increase to 700,000 in 2020
  • More than half of state’s population growth will come from Hispanic population
  • Referring to slide: These are projected values we have for El Paso County and Hudspeth county where El Paso County will have population increase and Hudspeth will have a small decline.
  • Referring to slide: We are looking at total population change and contribution to it by race/ethnicity for El Paso and Hudspeth County
  • The Hispanic population in El Paso county contributes over 60% of the growth change and over 100% in Hudspeth county
  • Redistricting dates of importance:
  • Apportionment file sent to President on Dec 31, 2020 once data is in
  • Redistricting data file must go to Governor’s of the states by April 1, 2021. We should receive the data as early as February 2021. At that time, it will become public data

Jared May, Texas Legislative Council

  • At the Texas Legislative Council (TLC) we provide resources and technology to the committees and legislature as well as to the public
  • CB takes into account the legislative schedules for each state to determine the order in which each state receives their data (8 states’ data released per week). CB reached out to TLC asking about legislative deadlines. TLC responded with constitutional and statutory requirements that the legislature has when considering RD maps
  • King- I understand you will send the committee a copy of that letter
  • Yes, I will
  • Our objective in sending that letter was to make the CB aware as to how tight the schedule is for considering RD maps and we hope to remain one of the first states to receive data to give as much time as possible to the legislature and public to consider options
  • We provided maps with census estimates to the committee to show how population of the districts has changed over time
  • State house district maps:
  • The numbers presented on the maps are different than the numbers presented by Dr. Valencia. The estimates available at the district level are from the American Community Survey estimates collected from 2014-2018. These numbers will go up, but the trends are in line with what has already been presented
  • We prepared maps for the state house districts, for El Paso county, for the state senate districts, and SBOE districts
  • For congressional district map, we are showing rate of growth, not comparison to the state as a whole. We don’t know for certain how many congressional districts we will have after the census
  • I want to focus on the resources available to the legislature and public. Website that acts as a hub:
  • On the website:
  • Redistricting Glossary of Terms
  • History of RD process from previous decades
  • Legal requirements for drawing maps
  • Provides information about the process
  • Committee hearing dates/times
  • Software for the legislature will be available at the capitol for the public to use to draw their own maps
  • Maps can be imported by the public into the website to be viewed by the public and legislature
  • “Who Represents Me?” put in address and see list of reps that represent you with a link to their website
  • District Viewer Application: Legislature and public can view every proposed plan for every district type. You can currently see 2010 plans
  • District Viewer will be updated live during the legislative session in 2021; it’s interactive
  • Capitol Data Portal (linked from District Viewer): can download data the legislature is using in creating their maps

Public Testimony

David Stout, Self, El Paso County, Precinct 2

  • Grant authority to TX counties to give RD control to the communities. Municipalities have this authority and Austin has Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (empowered to divide city into 10 geographical council districts for election of council members)
  • Prefer to have voters choose elected officials
  • Doing something more binding like the bipartisan backed model in Austin might go beyond counties authority as a political subdivision
  • Best way to ensure communities of interest can be logically and effectively drawn is through citizen led process
  • Enable counties to give power back to communities as municipalities have been able to do
  • Voter turnout has increased in Austin since Citizens RD Commission has begun its work
  • Citizens are best fit to take on RD house and senate districts
  • States like Utah have put power to draw districts into hands of independent RD  commissions run by citizens
  • TX should consider similar approach
  • Screen appointed individuals for partisan participation to ensure process is not tainted
  • Appointments made by elected officials for RD commission positions need to be subject to RD ethics reforms that prohibit individuals who are large campaign donors from being on RD commissions efforts
  • Goal is independent process incorporating racial and geographic diversity to drive RD efforts
  • These reforms should be captured in a constitutional amendment to ensure reforms remain
  • King- You think counties don’t have statutory authority to use some other alternative form besides Commissioner drawing maps?
  • Final say lies in hands of Commissioner’s Court. We can employ use of commission but they wouldn’t have final say. We want citizen’s commission to have final say
  • King- Do cities have that authority granted by the legislature?
  • El Paso’s city charter provides for an independent commission that is appointed by the city council member. A city council woman will testify later and may be able to better answer that for you

Jo Anne Bernal, Self

  • County Attorney for El Paso county
  • Supports bipartisan committee that will have final approval over the maps in Texas
  • As an elected official, there is a lack of confidence in the integrity of our gov’t at all levels
  • Lack of confidence comes from idea that citizens don’t have power they should have to elect their representatives
  • Use of partisan data to draw maps is a strong detriment to the integrity of our system
  • Citizens are in best position to determine communities of interest
  • Believe in the power of an independent commission to do right by Texas. One person, one vote accomplished by citizens

Christina Sanchez, El Paso Community College District 4 Trustee

  • District goes from Far W to Far E El Paso
  • Constituents want to be engaged in the political process
  • We have witnessed at a national and state level efforts to undermine participation
  • Minorities continue to be underrepresented
  • Approve citizen advisory committee to review lines and offer input to process. We can do this now

Eric Morales, Attorney

  • I endorse many of the ideas that have already been put forth here
  • By taking action in next legislative session, the committee can address the gerrymandering and leave a better legacy
  • Needs more input from citizens and needs to be able to participate in committee’s for RD
  • MN has 5M people, 134 house, 67 senate. Representatives know constituents on a personal basis. TX should consider amending const. to allow citizen committees to advise RD and to increase number of state reps. When they adopted 150 house members, there were a lot fewer people in TX than there are now

Representative Moody directs question to Jo Anne Bernal

  • Moody- Were you in office during the last RD process? Can you tell us what RD looks like at a county level?
  • Until recently, El Paso didn’t have sophisticated equip. to use more neutral generic models. They used data and drew lines and looked at what precedent was.
  •  If you were the Commissioner approving a final map, you could look at the neighborhood that has highest voter turnout and put them in your precinct
  • Districts can be drawn in a way that are more inclusive of certain types of voters.
  • Moody- At county level a decade ago, what did the public process look like?
  • Lines drawn from pop data from Road and Bridge Dept who had GPS system to draw maps
  • We now have more sophisticated system. First drafts of maps will be presented to Commissioners Court at a public meeting. Every elected official has legal right to go to office and say look at map and data. That’s where you start having influence on an individual basis where people say that’s not a map favorable to my re-election.
  • Moody- Can County Commissioner seek counsel from County Attorney’s office if they have questions about drawing these maps?
  • Yes they can, or we will consult outside counsel. Once maps are drawn, public hearings are held and there is very little public input and interest.
  • Moody- Is it legal, lawful, permissible for the county to assemble some citizen’s commission to review maps prior to the maps being adopted?
  • It is my legal opinion there is no statutory prohibition from Commissioners Court voluntarily determining a process that allows citizen input at every level
  • They could set up a process where first draft maps are reviewed by a citizens advisory committee before ever making it to an elected official. In my opinion, the Commissioners Court cannot give statutory authority to another commission.
  • King- I think that would take a constitutional amendment which means it cannot be done by the next RD process. They can’t delegate their constitutional right. Cities can because they are established by state statute
  • Moody- In the absence of state action, we can still involve citizens to a pretty high degree.
  • They could have a series of community meetings for communities of interest, they could do a number of things. Anything short of delegating the final vote
  • Moody- If the state doesn’t act in this way, there are opportunities for citizens to be involved locally
  • I do think a similar model could be employed by the state without delegating final decision.

Judy Ackerman, Self

  • Thank you for emphasizing idea of complete count. It would be great if TX put some money  behind that concept
  • There will be Senate hearings in the Spring and in El Paso. I ask you to share all testimony you received with the Senate committee
  • Hearing process, had to show up early to sign in. Why couldn’t we sign up online in advance?
  • King- in the capitol in Austin, we have an electronic sign in system. It’s not possible for us to take all the technology on the road with us
  • Where are people counted if they are incarcerated?  It doesn’t seem fair that the community that houses the jails gets all these extra people
  • It’s important we get to look at the maps before you vote. Post them online, figure out a way for everyone to be able to see them
  • Draw maps that make sense from a physical geography view not ones that favor a specific candidate or party
  • Blanco- We did attempt to create a statewide complete count committee this last legislative session and we also had a budget writer for $50M for the state but it didn’t go anywhere. CA has invested $180M into statewide complete count committee whereas TX zero. It’s concerning that in an environment where the census is underfunded, its being pushed to communities to pick up the slack. El Paso county has complete count committee in urban and rural areas to make sure our communities are counted and to keep our state delegation in tact.

Orlando Flores, Self

  • From lower valley of El Paso
  • President of Fabens ISD school board
  • Fabens, Tornillo, Clint are rural and contribute to pecan production in the state of Texas. Number 1 in peanut production in TX is in El Paso and Hudspeth counties
  • Large ag impact in Texas
  • Propose Hudspeth, Culberson County, and lower valley El Paso county has commonalities. More in common with neighbors South and East of lower valley
  • Gonzalez- what were you doing this morning?
  • Feeding animals, harvesting cotton yesterday morning
  • Gonzalez- we are in harvest season, so all the guys that have been here that farm are coming during a hectic time to make a point. It is very important to a specific and unique part of our community

Jarett Rogers, Rogers Farms

  • 5th generation farmer
  • Rep. Mary Gonzalez has been our voice
  • Wife is from El Paso and she didn’t even know lower valley or Clint was there
  • When we try to talk to El Paso officials, they seem to not care of know we are even there
  • Rep. Mary Gonzalez has been the only one fighting for us and standing with us.
  • We may not have the numbers on people but we have the numbers on acres
  • Blanco- One of the big things in RD is communities of interest. There are things like infrastructure and culture involved, not just economics. Why is it important to keep Hudspeth and lower valley together as communities of interest?
  • If you talk to someone that has no idea what’s going on, it’s like getting someone’s opinion on what I should feel regarding the border wall. I am there every single day living it, why shouldn’t our voice be heard by someone local that knows what we are dealing with?  

Scott White, Self

  • Live in District 77 and parents are in District 76
  • Our interests aren’t always where we live, sometimes it is where we work, where relatives live, etc.
  • Need non-partisan committee to help put these maps together so it is people like us making decisions for our community
  • Timeline: Once data is available there is very little time for legislature to do their job; potentially look at special session

John Spence, Valley Gin

  • Farmer and 3rd generation rural Texas, from Fabens, TX
  • Important to be represented by elected officials that understand issues unique to our community (ag, water and wastewater, rural education, crop development)
  • Communities have more in common with Hudspeth and Culberson County
  • Gonzalez- Worried what ag looks like 20 years from now. We are worried about losing rural representation. If we lose rural representation, will ag that is already struggling, will it continue to struggle in the next two decades
  • Our problem is proper representation. Water supply and infrastructure is a problem.

Dr. Kay Mooy, Self

  • We are from a rural background, military family, school family
  • El Paso is multifaceted and I don’t identify with any one thing; want vote to count regardless of party preference
  • One man, one vote

Olivia Chavez, Self

  • Worked for ESC, Region 19 for 41 years and had opportunity to move around the area extensively
  • I am blind but have always had assistance to get me to meet the students and families I served and represented
  • “Everyone counts or no one counts” James Patterson
  • Family were not always legal residents but contributed to community

Alexsandra Annello, Self

  • City council rep for District 2
  • Echoes concerns of rural representation
  • Acknowledges Rep. Gonzalez and the amazing work she has done
  • Doesn’t want district represented by politicians that don’t reflect the district
  • Want legislator’s to be transparent with map process and to explain why they drew lines where they did
  • King- many of the representatives on this committee represent rural and ag area

Carol Wallace, Self & League of Women Voters of El Paso

  • The League in El Paso is a very organization that advocates for many issues, as a non-partisan group
  • Public is willing to learn and wants to be there during RD process
  • Others talked about independent citizen commissions est in other states. We should be part of that process
  • Educate us on how we can become more involved, we are interested
  • Concerns: healthcare, education, retired teachers, immigration policy
  • We want to know that our reps represent our issues
  • One person, one vote- be transparent
  • King- We are educating ourselves as well. We learn RD and then don’t do it again for 10 years. It’s a learning process for us as well

Betty Ann Halliburton, Self & League of Women Voters

  • Member of NAACP organization
  • Language is not a protected class under the EEO and her children had to find jobs outside of El Paso because they are African American, non-Spanish speakers
  • Children are taking Spanish K-12 to correct the employment and language imbalance
  • It really doesn’t matter what we vote for, in El Paso the Hispanic population is the majority and what they want gets passed

Mary Santos, West Texas Pecan Association

  • 3rd generation farmer
  • Also have cleaning plant and refrigerated warehouse; there is a lot of spin off business from agriculture
  • Our rep for agriculture in this area is absolute necessity. We need Rep. Gonzalez, she always has our back
  • We cannot have a rep that comes from an urban area and doesn’t understand our interest
  • If RD has to happen, I am with Orlando, put us with Hudspeth and Culberson. Give us someone who knows us
  • King- Your local delegation is going to have a tremendous say in how the districts in this area is drawn. Interact with your district and share your say with them because they will have a lot of influence

Genie Mitchell, Self

  • Live in Ft. Davis, rural unincorporated community
  • Community has limited access to healthcare, 180-200 miles away
  • Dialysis patients must drive over 10 hours per day driving a day for treatment
  • Emphasize keeping together communities of interest and draw attention to reality of differences in healthcare access in different areas

Wesley Lawrence, Self

  • Lives in NE El Paso, political candidate for City Council District 4
  • End partisan gerrymandering
  • Need equal representation so small communities have as much of a voice as the urban areas
  • Don’t move HD 75 into another representation. Create a new TX house district that would represent W El Paso, Canutillo, Anthony
  • King- I don’t want to create false expectations and the way the census projections are looking, there will not be a new district created. It is necessary to reallocate the population within districts and will rely heavily on your delegation for their input on that

Jennifer Ivey, Self

  • Candidate for SBOE, District 1
  • You have to look at the difference of needs, rural doesn’t have same issues as the city
  • 4A, 5A, 6A is how schools are represented based on size. Maybe we should consider that in terms of representation for SBOE. 1 representative is not enough for the large area I am running for
  • King- Geographic issues are difficult in Texas, but we have a requirement to equalize the population. It is a constitutional change to allocate that differently.
  • There are about 40 counties in District 1

Jaime Arriola, Jaime Arriola for Congress

  • 1st generation American, nurse, farmer, small business owner
  • We have little outreach regarding the census and are only doing census outreach in communities with high voter turnout
  • Many individuals are unable to read or write and don’t understand the census
  • It is essential to provide good funding to outreach efforts for the census
  • District split between 16 and 23. There is a section of the city split up as well as Horizon. Many of these people feel ignored because their rep is over 500 miles away
  • Population 23 will grow almost double in size to what District 16 so there is reason to RD
  • Refocus on communities of interest and closer representation

Megan Arriola, Self

  • 4th generation farming community
  • Favor of keeping Rep. Gonzalez
  • Consider changes to HD 16 to take it back to original HD 16 to include Fabens, Soccoro, Tornillo
  • We are a single community divided by congressional districts
  • Communities like Fabens and Clint are often forgotten because District 23 is so large

Joshua Simmons, Self

  • Hold public hearings with public testimony after maps have been drawn and provide 5 days advance notice of hearing
  • Allow enough time at hearings for public and other legislator’s to present alternative maps
  • Explain how maps are drawn and why there may be any deviation from traditional map drawing rules
  • Submit data that was previously required under VRA preclearance
  • Don’t look at partisan data while drawing maps
  • Make all communications open regarding proposed maps