Returning to Austin on Monday for their third extra session of the year, lawmakers will attempt to draw new district lines for the state’s Congressional and House and Senate districts in the face of a primary season approaching at length. not. Delays due to COVID-19 and court challenges have pushed the release of critical US Census data months back and made redistribution impossible during regular session. While there is still time to draw maps and set primary dates scheduled for March, the last session, the Legislature approved two backup primary election dates in April and May if the contentious process were to unfold. to prolong.
According to the 2020 census, the total population of Texas grew to 29.1 million, up nearly 4 million over the past decade, with most of that growth coming from minority groups. The state’s demographer’s office reports that 39.7 percent of Texans described themselves as “non-Hispanic white,” up from 45.3 percent 10 years ago. “Black non-Hispanic” Texans grew more modestly, rising from 0.3% to 11.8% of the population. Texans identifying themselves as “non-Hispanic Asians” also increased, from 3.8% of the state’s population in 2010 to 5.4% in 2020. By far the fastest growing group were Texans who declared a Latino or Hispanic origin. Almost half of the state’s total growth of sixteen percent can be attributed to an increase in this population, which now represents 39.3 percent of Texas’ population from 37.6 percent in 2010.
Texas was also a big winner according to Congressional census redistribution data, being the only state that will add two seats to its congressional delegation. Florida, Oregon, Montana, North Carolina and Colorado will each win a seat in Congress, while California, New York, Illinois, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan will each lose one. The Texas Senate is set to open a third round of public hearings regarding the proposed cards starting at the end of the week.
While much thinner than the summer special session agendas, this session still has a few additional questions added by Governor Greg Abbott. Back before the legislature for the fourth time, a bill would require boys and girls to participate in school sports based on the biological sex listed on their original birth certificate. This measure has been approved by the Senate on three occasions but has not yet been adopted by the House. The governor also wants to see legislation that would resolve the issue of local governments implementing COVID vaccine mandates. It also gave lawmakers the leeway to continue to appropriate federal COVID aid dollars.
The latest issue of the Governor’s Initial Appeal brings to mind an issue from the regular session: cruelty to animals – particularly the illegal restraint of dogs. SB 474, by Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., reportedly created state standards for adequate shelter, cruelty-free collars and leashes, and treatment for dogs left outside. This would have made it illegal to use a chain to restrain a dog outside and would have required adequate shelter, shade and water for the animal. The governor vetoed the bill saying it was far too prescriptive.
“Senate Bill 474 would require all dog owners, under pain of criminal penalties, to monitor such things as the tailoring of the dog collar, the time a dog spends in a truck bed and the ratio between the length of the tether and the dog, measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail, ”reads the governor’s veto declaration. “Texas has no place for this kind of micro-management and over-criminalization.”
For the fall session, Abbott took the matter back to the Legislature, calling for a bill that protects dogs from inhuman restraint or confinement while addressing concerns listed in his veto statement. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday passed a measure identical to SB 474. Lucio told members he would bring forward amendments that would address the governor’s concerns when the measure is presented to the full Senate.
The Senate will meet again at 12 noon on Tuesday, September 21.