NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Republicans Bracing For Losses In Texas House & Nightly Roundup

By BJ Austin, KERA News & Wire Services

Dallas, TX – Republicans are bracing for losses under a new Texas House redistricting proposal. Rep. Burt Solomons, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, revealed details of his plan Wednesday.

With skyrocketing growth in minority populations, Republicans are bracing for the loss of several incumbents in 2012 after seeing their biggest majority ever this year. GOP incumbents would have to run against each other in seven districts under his plan. Democrats face only one such "pairing" of incumbents.

There would be eight open seats in the Solomons proposal. The GOP has a 101-49 edge in the state House. Many Republicans are predicting the supermajority will shrink after the 2012 elections under a newly drawn map.

State House panel takes up immigration bills

Republican Rep. Leo Berman is portraying his bill that would make English the official language of Texas as a cost-saving method.

Presenting his bill before a House committee on Wednesday,Berman claimed the measure would save the state millions since it would only print things in English. The state comptroller did not produce a fiscal note on the bill, but Berman touted the amount of paper and effort that would be saved under his proposal.

But opponents are skeptical.

Luis Figuera from the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, argues that the legislation isn't about saving money but is aimed at the immigrant population.

Berman's bill was one of several bills targeting undocumented workers being discussed Wednesday evening.

House passes resolution on balanced budget

The Texas House has adopted a resolution urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.

Facing a $15 billion budget shortfall in their own state, the House approved the measure Wednesday by a 115-17 vote. Several Democrats voted for the GOP-sponsored measure. Several other Democrats were present but chose not to vote.

If Congress doesn't do that by the end of the year, the resolution requests other states join Texas in calling a constitutional convention. Two-thirds of all the states would have to agree to hold such a convention, which has never been done.

Gov. Rick Perry had designated the resolution an emergency item for the Legislature.

Preachers Petition For Payday Lender Crackdown

Several South Dallas ministers are leading a petition drive to prompt the city to crack down on payday and auto-title lenders, who charge interest rates as high as 3 to 500 percent.

At City Hall today, Reverend Gerald Britt called the large number of such businesses a blight on neighborhoods.

Please download Adobe Flash to load audio player.

Britt: We are challenging you to adopt the strongest possible zoning ordinance to break up the devastating clustering of these businesses, which not only prey upon the desperation of our fellow citizens, but which choke out more wholesome economic development by their very presence.

Councilman Steve Salazar countered that payday lenders are the only resource for many "working poor" who need extra money for car repairs or medical bills. Salazar says banks need to step up and provide an alternative.

Tollway Authority Missing Money

The North Texas Tollway Authority is missing about 300 thousand dollars.

NTTA officials say they believe a number of employees in the I-T department created fraudulent refunds and skimmed the large amount of cash.

NTTA director Allen Clemson says there's no indication that any customer information was compromised. Plano police are investigating.