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AG asks high court to approve court-drawn House maps

 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Oct. 27 filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that required nine of the state’s 150 House districts to be redrawn.

In September, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stayed the federal district court’s ruling. That allowed Texas to continue to use the existing maps while the redistricting case remains pending.

Candidate filings for the 2018 elections begin next month. Early primary voting begins in February.

“We’re eager for the Supreme Court to review all the facts in this case, which are clearly on our side,” Paxton said. “The portion of the House redistricting map invalidated by the lower court is the map the same court drew and approved in 2012 before the Legislature adopted it in 2013. It’s been used in the last three election cycles in Texas, and there is no sound reason for that to change.”

In a separate ruling, the Supreme Court also temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that invalidated two of Texas’ 36 congressional seats. Paxton filed a brief on Oct. 17 asking the high court to reverse the district court’s ruling in that case.

Speaker won’t run again

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, on Oct. 25 announced his decision not to seek re-election in November 2018.

Straus is almost halfway through his record fifth consecutive two-year term as speaker.

The chamber will elect a new leader in the next regular legislative session, which begins in January 2019. State Reps. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, and Phil King, R-Weatherford, are the first two members to declare their intentions to run for the leadership post. Zerwas is chair of the state budget-writing House Committee on Appropriations. King chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety.

Straus has been noted as a consensus builder, able to bring Democrats and Republicans together in decision-making processes. His “big tent” style has overwhelmed challenges to his leadership and to his parliamentary abilities in moving certain bills through the process while slowing others, such as the “bathroom bill,” last spring.

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement following Straus’s announcement, saying: “Joe Straus has served with distinction for both the people in his district and for the Texas House of Representatives. I thank Speaker Straus for his service and for his commitment to the State of Texas.”

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin.... Contact him at 512-477-6755 or edsterling@texaspress.com.

 
 
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