Sunday, January 2, 2011

Four New U.S. House Seats For Texas in 2012 - Will Collin Co. Get One?

The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 that the 2010 Census showed the population of the United States on April 1, 2010, was 308,745,538 -- an increase of 9.7 percent over the 2000 U.S. population of 281,421,906. The most populous state was California (37,253,956); the least populous, Wyoming (563,626). The state that gained the most numerically since the 2000 Census was Texas (up 4,293,741 to 25,145,561) and the state that gained the most as a percentage of its 2000 Census count was Nevada (up 35.1% to 2,700,551). Regionally, the South and the West picked up the bulk of the population increase, 14,318,924 and 8,747,621, respectively. But the Northeast and the Midwest also grew: 1,722,862 and 2,534,225, respectively. U.S. Census Bureau Director Bob Groves says that since 1940, 79 congressional seats have shifted from the Midwest and Northeast to the South and West. "Texas gained the most seats this decade, a total of four — and indeed that state has gained seats for seven consecutive decades," Groves says.

U.S. Census Interactive Map
Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution calls for a census of the nation's population every 10 years to apportion the U.S. House of Representatives seats among the states. The 2010 apportionment winner is Texas with four additional House seats. Texas also gains four more presidential electoral votes and will be eligible for a greater share of federal money for various services. Florida will have two new U.S. House seats, giving that state a total of 27 representatives -- the same as New York. States receiving one additional seat each are: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. The biggest congressional losers are New York and Ohio, both losing two House seats, with Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each losing just one House seat. California still has the most representatives at 53, but for the first time in its history it did not gain a House seat.

The decennial census for Texas totaled to 25,145,561 people living in the state in the first half of 2010 for a 20.6% increase over the number of people living in the state in 2000. While the recently completed 2010 Census documented a marked slowdown in the growth of the U.S. population at 9.7 percent, Texas more than doubled that rate, courtesy of the burgeoning Texas Hispanic and black populations. While the Texas Anglo population increased at a rate less than the national average, Texas Hispanics increased by 33 percent and African-Americans by 16 percent. If these demographic trends continue, Hispanics should become the largest ethnic group in Texas within five years and become a majority of the state population by 2029. Thus, the fuel entitling the state to 36 rather than 32 seats in the reconfigured 435-member U.S. House of Representatives came entirely from minority communities that traditional vote Democratic. The U.S. House Texas delegation currently stands at 32, with 23 Republicans and 9 Democrats.

Most of the Texas growth was in the urban areas and in South Texas -- areas where Democrats traditionally draw the largest share of votes. That sets up an explosive situation when the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature formulates a redistricting plan during its 140-day session that convenes on January 11, 2011. The 150 member Texas House of Representatives will be made up of 49 Democrats and 101 Republicans when it convenes in January. (State Rep. Allan Ritter and State. Rep. Aaron Pena switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in December 2010.) A fair redrawing of the new congressional lines must allow the minority populations whose growth created the additional seats the opportunity to choose their representatives. Should the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature gerrymander the new districts to disenfranchise the larger minority populations, the gerrymandered congressional map would likely be challenged by the Obama Administration Justice Department, which under the Voting Rights Act must approve any changes affecting minority representation.

The last Texas redistricting plan, championed by former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2003, tilted the numbers in favor of the GOP by packing minorities into fewer districts while scattering the rest in districts dominated by Republicans. As a result, only two Texas Democratic representatives, Houston's Gene Green and Austin's Lloyd Doggett, are Anglo. Neither Houston or Dallas, both of which have large concentrations of Hispanics, have Hispanic congressional representatives.

Based on the 2010 Census count of 25,145,561 people living in Texas, the ideal population of a Texas congressional district is 698,488, the ideal senate district is 811,147, the ideal state house district is 167,637, and the ideal State Board of Education district is 1,676,371. While the Texas legislature goes into session on January 11th, serious redistricting efforts can't take place until the Census Bureau releases its detailed census breakdown. The Census Bureau expects to release the detailed county and block level population data needed to redistrict in late February or early March. (Census data release schedule - Texas redistricting information)

Three of the new congressional seats will probably land in areas that have seen the greatest population growth. Using county growth numbers taken from Nielsen Claritas market estimates for 2010, Collin County's population grew 64.5% to 808,727 residents in the ten years since the 2000 census. That compares to U.S. Census estimated population growth through 2009 of 19.7% for Harris County, 57.1% for Fort Bend County and 10.5% for Dallas County. Keep in mind that the largest counties are (state) constitutionally mandated to have all districts nested within county lines. Democratic political consultant Matt Angle predicts new Hispanic districts for the San Antonio and Dallas areas and a new Republican district will likely go into northwest Harris County.

Given Collin County's population growth over the last ten years it seem likely the county will see some adjustment to some or all of the various district lines, including for the Congressional, Texas House, Texas Senate and State Board of Education districts. Some interesting demographic analysis from a 2010 Nielsen Claritas market report for Collin County shows the county:
  • is the 6th most populous and fastest growing county in Texas;
  • is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S.;
  • has a relatively young population with 28% of the residents under 18 years, 5% of the residents over 65 years and a median resident age of 34 years;
  • will likely reach an estimated population count of 1.2 million people by 2030;
  • is among the few Texas counties with more than a half-million people;
  • had the highest sustained growth rate (64.5%) of Texas counties since the 2000 Census; and
  • had a median Household Income in 2010 of $83,040, making it the wealthiest county in Texas.

Data for Collin Co. - 2009

Data for TX Congressional Dist. 3 - 2009

Data for TX Congressional Dist. 4 - 2009
Collin County currently holds most of Texas Congressional District 3, represented by Republican Sam Johnson since he first won election in 1991. The 3rd congressional district includes the county's densely populated southwest quadrant and a small corner of northern Dallas county. The demographic makeup of Collin County's portion of the 3rd district has changed greatly since Johnson was first elected to office in the early 1990's.

The 1990 census listed over 80% of Collin County's citizens as "White," non-Hispanic. U.S. census estimates for 2009 show the non-Hispanic white portion of the population had dropped to only 65.4% of the county's population. According to 2009 Census estimates, 14.5% of the county is Hispanic-American, 10.2% of the county is Asian-American and not quite 8.2% of the population is African-American.

A December 2009 National Journal Online article detailing the growth of minority populations in congressional districts across the nation shows that non-Hispanic white Americans have decreased in Johnson's district (that currently includes a portion of Dallas Co.) to 54.9 percent while the district's minority American makeup has increased 8.4 percent to 45 percent, according to the National Journal report. (pie chart right)

The remaining three quarters of Collin County's geographic area is included in Texas Congressional District 4, currently represented by Republican Ralph Hall. Hall's District 4 geographic area includes all or parts of Bowie, Camp, Cass, Collin, Delta, Fannin, Farnklin, Grayson, Hopkins, Hunt, Lamar, Morris, Rains, Red River and Rockwall counties., so the district's demographic numbers mask the true makeup for Collin County's portion of the 4th congressional district. The detailed 2010 Census data will give the current demographic break down for all sections of Collin Co. (Census data release schedule)

Current Dist. 3 in Yellow and Dist. 4 in Pink

2011 Texas Legislative Session To Call For Constitutional Amendment To Enforce States’ Sovereignty

Several Texas Republicans have filed legislation aimed at reaffirming states’ rights and providing a constitutional mechanism to annul federal laws and regulations. The calls for amending the U.S. Constitution go a step beyond the ‘sovereignty’ resolutions pushed for in 2009.

Last session, Texas Rep. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) led the way on legislation to reaffirm the Tenth Amendment, which says powers not provided to the federal government in the Constitution are explicitly reserved to the states. Out of five pieces of legislation introduced on the topic, only Creighton’s House Concurrent Resolution 50 made it out of committee. HCR 50 passed the House by a margin of 99-36 (with all of the ‘nay’ votes belonging to Democrats) before dying in the Senate.

This session, Creighton has introduced the similar HCR 16. Additionally, state Sens. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) and Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) have introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 toward the same end. Hegar introduced the similar SCR 39 in 2009. Those ‘sovereignty’ resolutions basically would send a message to members of Congress requesting they repeal federal laws that Texas lawmakers think are unconstitutional.

For the upcoming session, Creighton is going further — his HCR 17 and House Joint Resolution 50 urges Congress to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of proposing and ratifying a constitutional amendment allowing any federal law to be repealed by consensus of two-thirds of the individual states’ legislatures.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) proposed HCR 19 for the same purpose. Truitt’s resolution specifically cites the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments as creating a “constitutional imbalance” in favor of the federal government against the states. The Sixteenth Amendment enabled the federal income tax, while the Seventeenth Amendment provided for direct election of U.S. senators, rather than having the state legislatures choose them. In a news release, Truitt said the federal health care reform law is “an example and the greatest episode” in unfunded mandates of the states. According to the news release, Truitt was inspired to file the resolution after reading an editorial in the Wall Street Journal written by Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett and Virginia state House Speaker William J. Howell.

For the 2011 session, Vice-chair of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, State Rep. Richard Raymond (D-San Antonio), has filed two resolutions urging the federal government to eliminate deficit spending and balance the budget from year to year. He has authored similar legislation regularly since at least 1995, none of which has passed the committee stage.

Raymond’s House Concurrent Resolution 23 asks Congress to “propose and submit to the states for ratification an amendment to the United States Constitution to provide for a federal balanced budget.” His House Joint Resolution 34 would put Texas legislators on record as supporting a proposed Constitutional amendment for a balanced federal budget. In 2009, Raymond’s HCR 73 and HJR 71 attracted two co-authors, state Reps. Diana Maldonado, D-Austin, and Aaron Pena, D-Edinburg. State. Rep. Aaron Pena switched to become affiliated to the Republican Party in December 2010.

The appeals for a constitutional convention of the states have also appeared in legislation aimed at creating a balanced federal budget amendment to the Constitution. There are two ways to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution: a two-thirds majority vote in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate; or by a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures, according to the National Archives.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Predictions

From the Panhandle Blog Jobsanger:

This is the time of year when a lot of crazy people think they can predict what the future will bring. I must have lost my mind because I've decided to join them and make some political predictions of my own this year. I must have purchased a defective crystal ball though, because I'm not seeing too many good things happening this year. Here's what I see happening in 2011:

* The outsourcing of good American jobs to other countries will continue unabated this year. Any attempts by progressive Democrats to stop or slow it down will be killed by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

* The lie that Social Security is in trouble will continue to grow (even though it is fully funded through 2027, and elimination of the tax cap would fund it for decades to come). Attempts will be made to cut benefits and raise the retirement age.

* Unemployment will remain high and no serious job stimulation effort will be passed by Congress (although the Republicans will try to further cut taxes using job creation as their excuse -- in spite of the fact that tax cuts do not create jobs).

* The housing market will not recover in 2011 (and can't recover until the jobless situation is fixed). Foreclosures will remain at all-time highs, and if Congress takes any action at all it will be to make it easier for banks to foreclose.

* The Republicans will not repeal the new health care reform law, but they will defund it (and that's pretty much the same thing).

* Private insurance companies will continue to raise the price of their premiums (and continue to refuse to pay for expensive treatments even for those with that high-priced insurance).

* Millions of Americans will continue to be unable to afford any health insurance coverage.

* Medicare and Medicaid will be cut by Republicans and Blue Dogs, causing even more doctors to refuse to treat elderly and poor patients.

* The huge gap in wealth and income between the richest 1-2% of Americans and the rest of America will grow even wider.

* America's transportation infrastructure will continue to crumble, because the Republican House would rather give the rich more money than put ordinary Americans to work fixing it.

* Global climate change will grow worse as Congress refuses to do anything about it. Taking their lead from America, other countries will also fail to find a solution.

* Toward the end of the year, Michele Bachmann will announce she's running for the senate seat currently held by Senator Amy Klobuchar.

* President Obama's approval ratings will remain in the upper 40's, setting him up for a possible re-election in 2012.

* Texas Republicans will raise taxes and then deny that they did it (claiming it was just an expansion of the "tax base" or the raise involved fees instead of taxes).

* Texas Republicans will pass a "voter ID" bill making voters present a picture ID to be allowed to vote (in addition to their voter registration card), claiming this will prevent voter fraud (although there is no evidence that fraud even exists).

* The Texas legislature will not approve casino-style gambling in the state (and the gambling money and taxes from it will continue to leave the state and go to Louisiana, Oklahoma and Nevada).

Actually, I would love to be wrong about most of the above predictions, but I don't think I am. 2011 is going to be a tough year for America. What do you think?

2011 Election Calendar

May 14, 2011 - Uniform Election Date
The more detailed May 14, 2011 Election Law Calendar is available on the Elections homepage and on the “Conducting Your Elections” pages.
**First Day to File for Place on Ballot (for cities and schools ONLY)(filing deadline for other political subdivisions may vary) Saturday, February 12, 2011 (first day to file does not move forward)
**Last Day to File for Place on Ballot, Local General Election Monday, March 14, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. (deadline is extended to next business day)

***Friday, March 18, 2011 (see note below relating to four-year terms)
Last Day to Order General Election Monday, March 14, 2011 (deadline is extended to next business day)
First Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail Tuesday, March 15, 2011 (does not apply to FPCA)
Last Day to Register to Vote Thursday, April 14, 2011
First Day of Early Voting By Personal Appearance Monday, May 2, 2011
Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail (Received, not Postmarked) Friday, May 6, 2011 (May 7, 2011 is the seventh day, but deadline moves back to preceding business day, Friday)
Last Day of Early Voting By Personal Appearance Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Constitutional Amendment Election November 8, 2011
See Amendments on the Ballot
These dates are subject to changes from the 2011 legislative session.
**First Day to File for Place on General Election Ballot (for cities and schools ONLY) (filing deadline for other political subdivisions may vary) Monday, August 8, 2011
Last Day to Order General Election Wednesday, September 7, 2011
**Last Day to File for Place on General Election Ballot (for local political subdivisions ONLY) Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 5:00 p.m.
First Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail Friday, September 9, 2011 (does not apply to FPCA)
Last Day to Register to Vote Tuesday, October 11, 2011 (deadline is extended to next business day after Columbus Day)
First Day of Early Voting Monday, October 24, 2011 (17th day before election day falls on a Saturday, first day moves to next business day)
Last Day to Apply for Ballot by Mail
(Received, not Postmarked)
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Last Day of Early Voting Friday, November 4, 2011