Court Hearings Begin In Texas Redistricting Case

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJuly 11, 2017 1:52 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A federal court in San Antonio began hearing arguments Monday in a case that could lead to new congressional and state house districts in Texas.

Plaintiffs are challenging political maps lawmakers adopted in 2013.

As Texas Public Radio’s Ryan Poppe reports, they argued in court these districts dilute the power of the state’s voters of color.

The State is accused of breaking up concentrations of Black and Latino voters and immersing them into predominately White voting districts.

Nina Perales is with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which is representing one of the groups suing the state.

“Voting patterns tend to be racially polarized, so much of the evidence is about whether additional minority voting districts can be drawn and whether they are justified under the voting rights act,” Perales says.

 The court will continue to hear arguments through this week and render a decision that’s expected to result in the redrawing of Texas House and Congressional maps before the start of the 2018 election cycle.

A new initiative will invest $50-million over 10 years to provide scholarships to future teachers in the state.

The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation is the latest public education project from H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt.

The scholarship program will provide 500 teaching fellowships annually at 10 Texas universities.

One of those schools is Southern Methodist University.

Amy Ferrell is an education professor at SMU.

She told KERA in North Texas that the initiative should boost the number of expert instructors for the next generation of Texas kids.

“It’s critical that we put people in the pipeline who are as ready as possible,” Ferrell says.

Some of the other participating universities include the University of Texas at Austin, Rice University in Houston and Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

A total of four state prison facilities will shut down by September to meet the requirements of a new Texas budget.

Three of the four have already ceased operations.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justicesays – when that last one closes – the state will have shuttered eight prison facilities in six years.

In that time, the Texas prison population has declined by about 10-thousand inmates.

The prison facility closures are expected to save the state nearly 50 million dollars. Prison worker transfers are also helping to alleviate staffing shortages at some rural prison facilities.