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Redistricting bill passes House

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX – The train just ran through the Texas House.

Suspending rules, the House just passed HB 1, the congressional redistricting bill, without the bill being referred to committee for hearing, and without the usual rules requiring layout of a bill for three days.

It was a fast-moving process and the few Democrats who rose in protest were caught so by surprise that they didn't have much to say.

Rep. Jaime Capelo (D-Corpus Christi) questioned how "the single most hotly contested bill of this legislative term" could be disposed of so quickly without the usual legislative processes.

He said there was no reason not to have public hearings and no reason to skirt the usual processes. He urged that the bill be referred to committee and that it go through the same process every other bill in the House goes through.

"It is unfortunate it's come to this," said Capelo.

The Corpus Christi Democrat said what the House was doing "short-circuits our processes, is an affront to the people of Texas and does away with the committee process."

"We have a process. We have a system," argued Rep. Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio). "If we suspend the rules, we're suspending the process."

Bill author Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) argued that the bill represents the same map that went through the committee process during the last session and that it already has had hearings "ad nauseum."

"The power grab that is going on here has now extended to the House floor," said Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston).

The bill was passed by a 75-26-1 mark.