Gov. Rick Perry on Monday called the Texas Legislature to meet in special session to address redistricting, the process of redrawing political maps, just hours before the end of the 83rd Legislature's regular session.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said Perry notified him just moments after the end of the regular session. Dewhurst told senators they would need to reconvene at 6 p.m. Monday.
"This should not take long," Dewhurst said.
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Dewhurst appointed a select committee to address the state's political maps that delineate House, state Senate and congressional districts just before adjournment. A panel of federal judges drew the current political maps for the 2012 election because minority groups challenged them in court, claiming they were discriminatory.
Since then, a three-judge panel in Washington has ruled that the maps drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2011 did discriminate against minorities and threw the maps out. A San Antonio court is now considering drawing yet another set of maps to deal with the problems identified by the federal court.
Minority groups want more districts that will give minority candidates a chance to win election, since minorities make up 89 percent of the state's population growth over the last decade. But Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wants the Legislature to formally adopt the maps used for the 2012 election so that he can push for those maps to become permanent.
Minority voters overwhelmingly cast ballots for Democrats in the last election, and many Republicans fear more minority districts will mean more Democrats in the statehouse. The current makeup of the Texas Legislature is 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats in the Texas House and 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats in the Senate.
The Texas congressional delegation includes 24 Republicans and 12 Democrats. While whites make up less than 50 percent of the population, there are 25 white members of Congress.