Texans are getting their first look at redistricting proposals after a plan sponsored by State Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) to redraw State Senate maps was released to the public.
Every ten years after the census, the Texas Legislature is required to redraw the state’s Congressional, State Senate, State House, and State Board of Education districts to account for changes in population. Texas has 31 state senators, and districts must be drawn to be roughly the same in population.
For the last 20 years, Montgomery County has been divided between two senate districts, the 3rd and 4th. Under the current map, most of Montgomery County is in SD 4, with only the northernmost part going to SD 3. However, if the new proposal is approved, many Montgomery County residents would be in for some big changes.
The new senate map would divide Montgomery County across three different districts. While most of the county would remain in SD 4, including Conroe and The Woodlands, Montgomery County would be taken out of SD 3 entirely, with northern Montgomery County being lumped into SD 4.
The biggest changes would be for the Magnolia area and the western part of the county. The southwestern part of Montgomery County would be moved into SD 7, based in northwest Harris County and currently represented by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston). Several precints southwest of Montgomery and in the Dobbin area would be placed in SD 18, a Brazos Valley district now held by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).
SD 4 would remain largely the same, although in addition to picking up most of SD 3’s territory in northern Montgomery County, it would also gain much of Spring. While SD 4 would continue to represent some of Jefferson County, it would lose Beaumont to SD 3.
Besides trading northern Montgomery County for Beaumont (the worst trade deal in the history of deals), SD 3 would remain largely the same.
Putting western Montgomery County into SD 18 actually makes a lot of sense- a resident of Dobbin probably has a lot more in common with the people of Grimes and Waller Counties than with many parts of Montgomery County.
Putting Magnolia into the Harris County based SD 7 is a little more puzzling- it probably has more to do with gerrymandering and shoring up the GOP majority in Bettencourt’s district. Although parts of southwestern Montgomery County probably have more and more in common with Cypress and western Harris County as development in the area continues to explode.
Under the new plan, all three districts including Montgomery County (4,7,18) would be solid Republican seats. Montgomery County would continue to dominate SD 4. However, Montgomery County residents in SD 7 and SD 18 would find their voting power significantly diminished, as they would make up a much smaller part of both districts.
The plans are not final, and the eventual maps approved by the legislature during it’s current special session may be quite different. However, this map gives us a window into what the political lines could look like for the next ten years.