Grasping the Political Circus - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

7/29/03

Grasping the Political Circus

So, let the stand-off begin. Texas Senate Democrats say they'll stay away one month if they have to if it will kill the redistricting bill. And it's the Texas Democrats constitutional right to break quorum and leave the state. It is part of the process. It's a process the Republicans think is being abused.

It's a battle of who's to dominate the congressional districts. Right now, the Republicans want to redraw the lines in Texas, so there will be more Republican representation in Washington.

In the spring, we saw the House Democrats split to Ardmore, Oklahoma. Now, the Texas Senators to Albuquerque? We sat down with one political analyst and a well known Texas political figure to grasp an understanding of this political circus.

Redistricting. Political Analyst Morris Wilkes says is one of the most volatile partisan issues the Texas legislature ever faces. "Every ten years, after the federal census, the legislature is required to tackle redistricting," said Wilkes.

However, redistricting was tackled two years ago, according to former Texas Governor Preston Smith. He served in Austin from 1969 to 1973. Smith says two years ago, the legislature couldn't agree on the Congressional districts, so four Federal judges made the decision. "Obviously they want to elect more Republicans into congress if they can," said Smith.

Wilkes says Governor Rick Perry can keep calling special sessions if he wanted. "The Governor, under the constitution, has the right to hold a special session for 30 days. No longer. And the Governor can decide what issues in that session can be debated," Wilkes said.

But each time a special session is called. It costs taxpayers millions of dollars, and to Smith, that's wasting money. "I think Perry is wrong. The constitution is pretty clear in saying a special session of the legislature can only be called by the Governor in case of a dire emergency. This doesn't seem like a dire emergency," said Smith.

Wilkes told NewsChannel 11 that in order for the new lines to be set in stone, something needs to pass fast. Because of next year's congressional race. Also, Smith says the legislature should follow the laws. Stick to tackling redistricting every ten years like the constitution states.

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