Archive for February, 2012

Travis County, five ways

Here’s a closer look at how Travis County will be divided in Congress according to a map released Tuesday:

Click the image to enlarge.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, gets more of Austin west of MoPac. McCaul said he’s happy with what the court decided. Here’s his statement on the map:

"I am pleased to see the San Antonio court adhered to the Supreme Court’s position. The Republican voting strength in CD10 is now over 60 percent, making this an even more conservative district than it was in the last election, which I won by 32 percentage points. I look forward to once again earning the support of mostly the same constituency that I have had the privilege to represent for nearly four terms."

Federal court issues new political maps

YNN’s Alana Rocha filed the above video report.

A federal court in San Antonio has issued new congressional and state House maps in time for Texas to hold a May 29 primary, and some minority groups are not happy.

LULAC told YNN they are specifically disappointed to see Travis County divided up into five different congressional districts.

A March 3 deadline had been set by election officials who said they needed maps before that day in order to keep the tentative primary date of May 29. The nine groups contesting the state’s political districts could still file an appeal.

Minority groups accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of drawing maps that discriminated against them. The state’s leaders say the maps merely give Republicans an advantage in the next election.

Click here to view the new map.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Attorney General Abbott, Gov. Perry respond to redistricting maps

Attorney General Greg Abbott says the new maps reflect what state lawmakers intended when they drew the original maps. CD 25 and CD 35 are back to what they were originally.

"The new interim maps issued late today are a substantial improvement from maps previously issued by the San Antonio court. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous, clear direction to the district court, these new interim maps more accurately reflect the decisions of elected Texas legislators.

In light of the state’s legal arguments, the San Antonio court only modified the Legislatively enacted plan in response to alleged Voting Rights Act violations, while leaving virtually all other districts as they were drawn by the Legislature. In doing so, the court properly rejected the demands by some plaintiffs to draw drastic and overreaching interim maps."

Gov. Perry also released a statement Tuesday. He says he’s happy to be back on track for the primaries. In his statement he blamed the court for overstepping its bounds, therefore costing the state to move the election.

"While we believe the original maps drawn by the Texas Legislature were fair and legal, I am pleased we finally have maps that enable us to proceed with our elections.

As the Supreme Court has agreed, the federal court in San Antonio overstepped its boundaries when it took it upon itself to draw new maps. Had the federal court done it correctly to begin with, the time, costs and inconvenience to our state could have been avoided, and we would be having our elections on schedule.”


MALDEF: Maps achieve what lawmakers didn’t; Texas Dems say maps fall short

MALDEF’s Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation and lead counsel for the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force in the lawsuit against the state over the maps, is calling them an achievement.

Here’s Perales’ statement:

"The interim congressional redistricting plan complies with the mandates of the Voting Rights Act by creating two additional Latino-majority congressional districts. Therefore, this litigation has achieved what the State of Texas failed to include in its legislatively-enacted congressional redistricting plan – districts that recognize the significant population growth of Latinos in Texas.”

The Texas Democratic Party is not so pleased. They say the maps are an improvement, but still fall short. Here’s what the TDP is saying:

“We appreciate the court’s efforts, but their maps are far from accurate representation. These maps may be slightly better than those passed by a radical legislature, but they still grossly misrepresent the demographics of our state. The Texas Democratic Party will continue to support our allies who are fighting to ensure that all communities are accurately represented.”

Doggett sets sights on District 35 in wake of newly-released maps

The congressional district map released Tuesday leaves Travis County in five parts, and leaves Austin District 25 heavily Republican.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett has been campaigning in 25 and newly-created District 35 since the legislature released maps during the last session. In a statement released after the interim maps, it seems clear Doggett is focused on 35.

"As an effective advocate for schools, veterans, health care and retirement security, my service fits well with the neighborhoods that have now been joined from South San Antonio to North Austin.

I will continue the visits with working families that I already have underway. And I will continue to stand up to Rick Perry and other extremists, whose misguided policies are threatening our families’ security."

Perry weighs in on contraceptive lawsuit

Here’s Governor Perry’s statement regarding the state’s addition to a lawsuit challenging President Obama contraceptive mandate:

"As is becoming all too predictable, the Obama Administration is continuing its unprecedented and unconstitutional intrusion into every facet of American life, this time mandating that our religious institutions violate their own beliefs. It has to stop. I commend General Abbott for taking this much-needed action, part of an ongoing battle over our right to practice our faiths, and live our lives, without Washington interference."

Texas joins contraception mandate lawsuit

Texas is joining six other states that are challenging the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s mandate that employers provide free access to contraceptives to their employees.

The mandate sparked outrage from religious institutions who claimed being forced to pay for birth control violated their beliefs. The Obama administration offered a compromise, saying it would shift the payment burden to the insurance companies rather than religious universities or hospitals. The damage was already done, however. Religious organizations and several states decided to take legal action.

Attorney General Greg Abbott issued this statement today:

“Obamacare’s latest mandate tramples the First Amendment’s Freedom of Religion and compels people of faith to act contrary to their convictions. The President’s so called ‘accommodation’ was nothing but a shell game: the mandate still requires religious organizations to subsidize and authorize conduct that conflicts with their religious principles. The very first amendment to our Constitution was intended to protect against this sort of government intrusion into our religious convictions.”

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst released this statement:

"The freedom to practice our faith without interference from the government is one of our most sacred rights, and Texans will not sit silently while the Obama Administration continues to violate our religious liberty with more unconstitutional mandates. I’m proud that Texas is taking a stand to protect the rights of faith-based organizations who serve the sick and less fortunate with far more compassion than the federal government ever will."

Here’s the full lawsuit:

Capital Roundup Exclusive: Lawmaker pushes for drought solutions

State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, says it’s time for the state to start "building" Texas’ water future. We sat down with Larson Thursday to discuss the serious drought conditions in Texas.

"I’d like to see the governor, the lieutenant governor and the speaker to step up and say we’re going to start building projects that make Texas drought proof," Larson said.

Larson says the state cannot leave it up to Mother Nature if Texas is going to compete economically.

"I’m saying Texas does have a role in this. In the past we have not actively been engaged in developing our water resources but people are either going to come to Texas based on whether it be the labor component, whether it be what incentives we have for building a plant here, but I think right now, the biggest concern people have about bringing jobs to Texas is water," Larson said.

He went on to say that companies have voiced concerns to him recently about having enough water to power their plants.

You can see the whole interview with Larson, including why he’s looking to Australia for an example of how to fix the problem, in the video below.

Perry makes first public appearance for Gingrich

Governor Rick Perry is on the campaign trail with his former rival for the GOP presidential nomination. Perry endorsed Gingrich when he dropped out of the race in January. Last night, he attended the CNN debate in Arizona, where voters will head to the polls for Tuesday’s primary election.

It was Perry’s first public appearance for Gingrich. In the post debate spin room, Perry told reporters that Gingrich looked "presidential," but said it’s possible none of the candidates will have the nomination locked up before the convention in Tampa.

Here’s that interview:

Staples takes border security message to a national audience

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples will be talking border security on Fox News, tonight. His appearance on "On the Record" was prompted by a letter he wrote to President Obama, asking the federal government to "perform the constitutional responsibility of protecting our borders."

Here’s the letter: