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by William Lutz    Mon, Jul 27, 2009, 02:51 PM

Harris County grew almost exactly the same as the state’s population as a whole. Harris County would be eligible for 24.57 seats, meaning lawmakers could choose 24 or 25 – the same predicament as in the 2000 redistricting cycle. Galveston County also grew roughly at the state average and is eligible for 1.78 legislative seats (though those Census estimates are based on pre-Hurricane-Ike data).

Fort Bend County gains an entire seat, going from 2.55 to 3.28 seats. Brazoria County will be eligible for 1.86 House seats under the current estimates.

Montgomery County redistricting could create an interesting quagmire for lawmakers. Montgomery goes from 2.11 to 2.65. Rep. John Otto (R-Dayton) represents a small sliver of Montgomery County now. The Legislature could either try to draw a district based in Montgomery and Liberty Counties, though that would be difficult to do as Liberty is eligible for 0.49 seats, or they could draw the Otto district into rural East Texas.

Southeast Texas creates a serious problem for map-drawers, as it has lost population. Jefferson County (Beaumont) goes from 1.81 to 1.50 seats. Jefferson and Orange Counties combined equal almost exactly two seats, according to the new census estimates, but currently have three state representatives living in them (Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont), Allan Ritter (D-Nederland), and Tuffy Hamilton (R-Mauriceville)). Additionally, Deshotel’s district is subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and probably has to be preserved.
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