LAREDO, Texas – State Senators Judith Zaffirini and Juan Hinojosa are urging residents from across South Texas to participate in two upcoming virtual Senate redistricting hearings.
One of the two takes place today, Jan. 26, with a regional focus on South Texas. It starts at 9:00 a.m. The other takes pace on Feb. 2, with a focus on the Rio Grande Valley. It, too, starts at 9:00 a.m.
Zaffirini said such hearings will be held over the next month, as legislators gather in put on how they should redraw congressional, legislative, and State Board of Education district lines. Although the hearings will be held at the Texas Capitol in Austin, all testimony will be provided virtually using Zoom.
Zaffirini, D-Laredo, said the hearings likely will be the only opportunities for members of the public to engage with senators about the once-per-decade redistricting process.
“Although senators would prefer to engage with local leaders and advocates in- person, virtual hearings are the obvious choice to protect public health,” Zaffirini said. “They also present an opportunity for persons who may not be able to attend traditional hearings to participate in this important process.”
Persons wishing to testify must register at least 24 hours in advance and have video and audio capabilities enabled. To register, visit the committee hearing list via https://capitol.texas.gov/Committees/MeetingsByCmte.aspx?Leg=87&Chamber=S&CmteCode=C625, select the notice for the specific hearing, and click the registration link within. The notices also provide guidelines and instructions.
Zaffirini said she is eager to hear from her constituents regarding their preferences and priorities. “Listening to public testimony is the best way I can advocate for the persons I represent,” she said.
Asked about her own priorities entering redistricting, the senator expressed her desire to keep Senate District 21 intact and her optimism that the Senate will conduct a transparent, collaborative process.
“Senate District 21 is a microcosm of Texas,” Zaffirini said. “I’m delighted to represent some of our largest cities, smallest towns and everything in between. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure my district remains the special place it is and to draw maps that center the interests of Texas families and communities, not partisan advantage.”
Sen. Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is vice chair of the Senate Special Committee on Redistricting.
“Allowing virtual testimony gives Texans from all across the State an opportunity to safely provide input regarding their communities and how it can be impacted with the redistricting process,” Hinojosa said. “Participation in these hearings – is not optional. We must make the issues and concerns of each region known to the rest of Texas. The insights from the different regions of the State will provide the Committee with a much needed local perspective on district maps that will define the context in which we elect our leaders for the next decade.”
Members of the public may view all upcoming Committee hearings and sign up to testify at https://bit.ly/3bWqH5b. Also, community members not available to participate in a virtual committee hearing, may submit written comments and attachments to the Committee at any time throughout the legislative redistricting process. To submit written comments and attachments via the public-input portal, please visit the Committee’s website at https://senate.texas.gov/cmte.php?c=625. All comments and attachments received via the public-input portal are shared with all Committee members and maintained in the official records.
“This is an opportunity for the public, for voters, to express their views on how congressional, legislative, and State Board of Education districts are drawn. Each one of us is affected by the decisions made by this Committee. We must speak to be heard,” Hinojosa added.
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