When I saw that my friend Bryan Hughes had posted to this blog, I decided it was time for me to get off the sidelines. Representative Hughes is one of the members of the Texas House for whom I have tremendous respect, in part because of his principled opposition last session to Tom Delay's redistricting effort.
You've probably heard a lot about how TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority PAC), led by Tom Delay, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns in 2002 in order to influence the 2003 Legislature to pass Delay's Congressional redistricting plan. What you may not know is that Bryan Hughes was one of the biggest recipients of TRMPAC contributions, and voted against redistricting because of its negative impact on his district. As a current freshman member of the House, I can only imagine how much courage it took for Representative Hughes to take that stand in his freshman session two years ago.
I and several other legislators have introduced bills this session to create an independent commission to handle redistricting -- so that voters can choose their political leaders, instead of vice versa. Unfortunately, these bills have been met with little enthusiasm from legislative leadership.
The hardest thing to get lawmakers to vote for is any measure that would diminish their power as lawmakers. The only way to pass reforms that empower citizens and make politicians more accountable to the people who elect them is when the public demands it. So I hope everyone checking out this blog will weigh in with your representatives on the need for an independent redistricting commission.
And thanks to Representative Aaron Pena for starting this blog and bringing us all into the digital age!