Senate Research Center   S.B. 1564
By: Wentworth
Cmte of the Whole on Leg & Cong Redistricting
As Filed


Currently, the Texas Constitution directs the legislature to apportion the
state into senate and representative districts at the legislature's first
regular session after the publication of the United States decennial
census.  If the legislature fails to do so, then the Legislative
Redistricting Board of Texas (LRB) is to do so.  The LRB does not have
authority to redistrict congressional districts if the legislature fails
to do so. 

The LRB members are the Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Attorney General, Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the
Commissioner of the General Land Office.  If the legislature fails to
redistrict during that regular session, then the LRB  is to meet within 90
days of the final adjournment of regular session.  The LRB has 60 days
after assembling to reapportion the state into senate and house districts.
This constitutional provision was added to the constitution after the
legislature failed to redistrict the house and senate districts during the
1930s and 1940s. 

An additional failure to redistrict occurred at the beginning of the
century.  In 1911, the governor vetoed the senate districts legislation,
so the senate districts used during the first decade of the century were
also used during the second and through the 1922 election. 

The legislature has never reapportioned state district courts.  The Texas
Constitution was amended in 1985 to direct that the legislature
reapportion district courts in 1993 and every 10 years after.  The
constitution also created the Judicial Districts Board, which is given the
duty to reapportion district courts if the legislature fails to do so.
The Judicial Districts Board is required to complete its work by August
31, otherwise the LRB has 150 days to do so.  The district court plan of
the Judicial Districts Board must be approved by the legislature, the
district court plan of the LRB does not have to be approved. 

The current redistricting standards in the Texas Constitution applicable
to senate districts are that the state be divided into contiguous
territory according to the number of qualified electors, as nearly as may
be.  The districts are to be single-member districts, and no single county
shall be entitled to more than one senator. 

The state constitutional standards applicable to house districts are that
the districts be apportioned among the counties according to the
population in each and that the counties in the districts be contiguous.
Provides the county-line rule to avoid unnecessarily splitting of county
lines.  Section 26a prohibits counties from having more than seven state
house districts unless the population exceeds 700,000, in which event a
county is entitled to one additional house district for each extra 100,000


As proposed, S.B. 1564 is the enabling legislation for S.J.R. 41, which
eliminates the authority of the legislature to redistrict state
legislative and congressional district and gives this authority to the
Texas Redistricting Commission (commission).  Authorizes any registered
voter to file a petition with the Texas Supreme Court (supreme court)
challenging the plan.  Requires that the supreme court give the petitions
precedence over all other matters. 

Provides that the Texas Legislative Council is to provide staff and
services for the commission.   
Directs that the commission publish a report which include an explanation
of the criteria used in  developing the plan and the estimated costs for
changing election precinct boundaries.  Prohibits commission members from
engaging in certain political activities.  Authorizes the commission to
serve ast the legislature's recipient of data and maps from the Census
Bureau.  Does not add any new redistricting standards in addition to those
provided in the constitution and in the proposed constitutional amendment.
Authorizes the Secretary of State to serve as custodian of records for the


Rulemaking authority is granted to the Texas Redistricting Commission in
SECTION 1 (Section 307.006(1), Government Code) of this bill. 


SECTION 1. Amends Title 3A, Government Code, by adding Chapter 307, as


Sec.  307.001.  DEFINITIONS.  Defines "commission" and "plan."

Sec.  307.002.  OATH.  Requires each person appointed, before serving on
the Texas Redistricting Commission (commission), to take and subscribe to
the constitutional oath of office. 

Sec.  307.003.  ELIGIBILITY.  Provides that the eligibility of a person to
serve on the commission is as prescribed by Section 28, Article III, Texas

Sec.  307.004.  POLITICAL ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED.  Sets forth political
activities in which members of the commission are prohibited from

Sec.  307.005.  OPERATION OF COMMISSION.  Requires the legislature to
appropriate sufficient funds for the compensation and payment of the
expenses of the commission members and any staff employed by the
commission.  Requires the commission to be provided access to statistical
information compiled by the state or its political subdivisions as
necessary for the commission's reapportionment duties.  Requires the Texas
Legislative Council, under the direction of the commission, to provide the
technical staff and clerical services that the commission needs to prepare
its plan. 

Sec.  307.006.  DUTIES.  Sets forth the duties of the commission.

Sec.  307.007.  REDISTRICTING PLAN; FORM.  Requires the commission, for
each redistricting plan or modification of a redistricting plan adopted by
the commission, to prepare and publish a report containing certain
information.  Requires the commission to make a copy of a report prepared
under this section available to the public. 

Sec.  307.008.  REDISTRICTING PLAN STANDARDS.  Requires a redistricting
plan adopted by the commission to conform to the standards provided by
Sections 25, 26, and 28, Article III, Texas Constitution. 

Sec.  307.009.  SUBMISSION OF PLAN.  Requires the commission, on approval
of a redistricting plan or modification of a plan by the commission, to
submit the plan or modification to certain persons. 

Sec.  307.010.  CESSATION OF OPERATIONS.  Requires the commission,
following the initial adoption of all plans that the commission is
required to adopt, to take all necessary steps to conclude its business
and suspend operations until the commission reconvenes as provided by
Section 28, Article III, or Section 7a, Article V, Texas Constitution, if
it does reconvene.  Requires the commission to prepare a financial
statement containing certain information.  Provides that, after the
commission suspends operations, the secretary of state  becomes the
custodian of its official records for purposes of election administration.
Provides that any unexpended funds of the commission revert to the general
revenue fund. 

Sec.  307.011.  CHALLENGES TO PLAN.  Authorizes any registered voter to
file a petition with the supreme court challenging the plan, after a
redistricting plan or modification of a redistricting plan adopted by the
commission or supreme court becomes effective. Authorizes the supreme
court to consolidate any or all petitions and requires the supreme court
to give the petitions precedence over all other matters. 

DISTRICTS.  Sets forth procedures for statewide reapportionment of
judicial districts by the commission in certain circumstances. 

SECTION 2. Amends Section 24.945(e), Government Code, to make conforming

SECTION 3. Amends Section 24.946(a), Government Code, to make conforming
and standard recodification changes. 

SECTION 4. Provides that this Act takes effect January 1, 2001, but only
if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 75th Legislature, Regular
Session, 1997, relating to the establishment of the Texas Redistricting
Commission to redistrict the Texas Legislature and Texas congressional
districts and to revise the constitutional redistricting provisions, is
approved by the voters.  Provides that if that proposed constitutional
amendment is not approved by the voters, this Act has no effect. 

SECTION 5. Emergency clause.