South Texas was the topic of discussion at the regional Senate Committee Redistricting Hearing on Tuesday

The Texas Senate Redistricting Committee heard testimony on Tuesday about the census count and redistricting for the South Texas region.

State Senators Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Judith Zaffirini were both on hand to hear from State Demographer Dr. Lloyd Potter who set out assumptions and expectations from the United States Census Bureau, which is usually released to the states by December 31 of each year. This year, Dr. Potter said that due to coronavirus, that information will not be made available until at least March 6, 2020. However, Dr. Potter pointed out that it could take longer than that for the information to reach lawmakers. 

“We were kind of surprised at places like the Lower Rio Grande Valley that had such high self-response rates,” Dr. Potter said. “However, we will see pockets of the population that lag and represent an under count in the census numbers.” 

Dr. Potter pointed out in the hearing that traditionally, areas such as the Rio Grande Valley and the Laredo area typically experience some sort of undercount. 

In his remarks to lawmakers, Dr. Potter pointed out that Texas as a whole is growing, second only to Utah, which still has a significantly lower population than does Texas. Potter expects that with that growth Texas could gain 2, likely 3 seats in the United States Congress after it is all said and done. Where those seats end up is still a big looming question. 

In his report Potter stated that the Latino population has grown significantly in Texas while Whites and African Americans saw marginal increases in population size based on migration and birth and death rates. Interestingly, Potter said that the ASian community is rapidly growing in the state of Texas as a whole and that they are more and more becoming a demographic that needs more representation. 

While lawmakers are expected to be called into a special session, redistricting is something that always draws the eyes of speculation and doubt onto Austin leadership. The process is undertaken every ten years in accordance with Census counts.

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