The Trump Administration may be seeking to delay key Census deadlines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross said in a call with several members of Congress that Census field operations would be suspended until June 1, according to a statement issued by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Maloney said Ross would seek federal legislation to delay the deadline to deliver apportionment counts to April 30, 2021, from December 31, 2020, and to deliver redistricting data to the states to July 31, 2021, from March 31, 2021. Those deadlines are set by federal law and would require congressional approval.

If approved, these delays would mean that redistricting would not occur during the 2021 regular session. Art. III, Sec. 28 of the Texas Constitution provides that the Legislature shall apportion the state into districts “at its first regular session after the publication of each United States decennial census.” The Legislative Redistricting Board takes over “in the event the Legislature shall at any such first regular session following the publication of a United States decennial census fail to make such apportionment.”

In its 1971 ruling in Mauzy v. Legislative Redistricting Board, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the current regular session counts toward meeting the constitutional requirement even if the census is published with only a few days left in the session.

During the last redistricting cycle, the U.S. Census Bureau delivered its 2010 state population totals for apportionment on December 21, 2010, and the block level population data on February 17, 2011. In the prior redistricting cycle, the totals for apportionment were released on December 28, 2000, and the actual Census 2000 enumeration data was sent to the states on March 6, 2001. Only the first of those two events would occur during the 2021 regular session under the Administration’s proposed timeline.

If the total state population for apportionment is sufficient to trigger “publication” of the census, then the Legislature could take up redistricting in the regular session. If “publication” is triggered by the block-level detail, then the next regular session would be 2023.

CD32: The campaign of Republican challenger Genevieve Collins announced she raised $720K during the first quarter, which means she raised nearly $540K after her pre-primary report. Collins won the five-way Republican primary outright with 53% of the vote and will face U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas).

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