Hegar, fellow legislators must wrangle with redistricting
Dec. 24, 2010 at 6:24 a.m.
State Sen. Glenn Hegar, who represents 19 counties, knows he and his colleagues face a challenge when they tackle the issue of redistricting during the upcoming 82nd legislative session.
"The state of Texas has grown 19 percent in population in the last 10 years" and will get four additional seats in the U.S. Congress, Hegar said. "Where do those fit in the new look of the state of Texas?"
Besides passing a budget, redistricting is the other mandatory action the legislature must take in 2011.
In addition to the U.S. congressional map, all other entities that hold elections are subject to being affected by redistricting.
These include single-member district school boards, city councils, special district boards and county commissioners courts.
Daryl Fowler, DeWitt County Judge-elect, realizes the importance of redistricting.
"Looking at it from a local perspective, the population gain could dilute our rural influence because the newcomers are settling mostly in the 10 largest counties in the state," said Fowler, a Republican. "Our region may wind up being drawn into an urban district. Lavaca County is already experiencing the consequences. We, in DeWitt County, may experience the same future."
Hegar also emphasized several issues that are of particular interest to his constituents, including natural resources, but worries time constraints may get in the way during this session.
"I really wanted to have a very strong discussion of water policy," he said. "Where we need to go as we're moving forward, making sure local communities have their waters, how do we make sure all the state's regions - the economic engines per say - have water as well and how we balance those needs."
"With all we have to do, and with the load on me with the Sunset Commission, I just think this is not the session to try to have those major discussions," he admitted.
In addition to life on his Hockley farm, the Sunset Advisory Commission has kept Hegar busy this interim.
"We had 27 state agencies that are under our view," he said. "We've been tasked with the job to look at whether to keep them in business and if you keep them in business, do you substantially change them in any shape, form or fashion to try to make them more efficient, more effective?"
Hegar added that he prefers to file bills once the legislature is in session.
"I don't plan on pre-filing any legislation. I can do it just as easily when I get there.
"I am filtering a lot of things out right now," he said. "Will I carry certain pieces of legislation? Yes. Local communities talk to me about basic issues."
Those local issues include, among others, transportation and public education funding.
Hegar said in the past he has proposed legislation promoting second amendment rights and will do so again.