This Week in Texas: November 30, 2011

Posted November 30, 2011 in The Mignon Memo

Last Wednesday, a panel of federal judges in San Antonio proposed a new congressional redistricting map for Texas. After the map was revealed, longtime Congressman Charlie Gonzalez (D-San Antonio) announced that he would not run for reelection in CD 20. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) will run in that district instead of the newly drawn CD 35. Congressman Lloyd Doggett retained much of his current district so he will run for reelection in CD 25. The path to the March primary election is not clear yet. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the implementation of interim maps for congressional and state legislative districts, arguing the three-judge panel that drew the maps overstepped its legal bounds. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia asked groups in the dispute to respond to the state’s request by Thursday, December 1st. Filing for the 2012 primary elections began Monday in spite of the uncertainty regarding the maps. Stay tuned.

Two more Texas House members are calling it quits. Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton), the chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, and Rep. Aaron Pena (R-Edinburg) have decided not to seek reelection next year. If you are keeping a count, there are now 24 state representatives who have announced they will not run for reelection. Add in the four state senators retiring and you have a minimum of 28 new members next session.

The Texas Supreme Court has issued a decision in the Allcat Claims case regarding the constitutionality of the state’s franchise tax. The Court found that the tax is not a net income tax on the partners and does not violate the state constitution. This decision will not, however, affect a separate challenge to the franchise tax that was filed by Nestle USA Inc. and two other companies. That case involves concerns regarding the application of the tax rather than its constitutionality. The revamping of the franchise tax looks to be a major focus for the next legislative session in 2013.