Well the first set of redistricting maps came out for the Texas House of Representatives last week and I have to say I for one was not very exciting. It’s proposed that Milam County move from House District 20 to a new House District 149. This all sounds non-threatening until you read a little more and find out that it takes Milam County out of the District served by Rep. Charles Schwertner (whom we elected) and includes us in an open district with a sprinkling of Williamson County and all of Burnet County – Yes, Burnet County.
This new district has been called many things including “Dumbo Ears with a Chinstrap.” What it has not been called by anyone in Milam County was logical, smart, pragmatic, nor has it been referred to as desirable. My first phone calls to our elected officials suggested that this is not a very realistic plan and I asked for some sort of explanation, no one wanted to take credit for it.
So Sunday afternoon, Judge Dave Barkemeyer accompanied by a concerned citizen headed to Austin to speak at the open forum for this committee. His testimony was favorably received and in speaking with one state legislature this morning I was told that the House redistricting map is about 85% complete, which is down some from the 95% complete I was quoted last week. I was also told that we should expect to be in the 15% to be changed as even the House Committee is perplexed and does not think this map in its current form will stand the scrutiny of Department of Justice approval. But they had to start somewhere.
Just like with the budget plans and other legislation, these initial maps are far from the final version; however, unlike in other aspects of American politics, this committee seems to be addressing the redistricting fairly and is working together to improve this map and avoid a repeat of the House Democrat Exodus to Oklahoma of 2003.
As the Chair of the Milam County Republican Party I would like to see Milam County remain in as close to the same District 20 as we can manage; however, if not then I would prefer to see Milam County move to a more rural district such as District 17 currently represented by Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington).
This redistricting plan is far from complete I would recommend you contact your State Representative with your thoughts. With the legislature in session, if you feel strong enough, head to Austin in person and let them know your feelings.