February 10, 2010 | KVUE (Austin, TX) | Original Article

Texas congressional delegation could grow by 4, depending on Census

AUSTIN -- Texas' voice in Washington, D.C., could get louder, depending on how many people participate in the 2010 Census which is about to begin.  Once the count is complete, lawmakers will be allowed to re-draw the boundaries of who represents Texans in Washington.

The 2010 Census is expected to show that Austin -- like all of Texas -- is growing, not just in numbers, but in diversity, too.

As a result, federal officials told members of the House Redistricting Committee, the state could be in line to get four more members of Congress.

“We should, by our estimation, have the four seats, but if everybody doesn’t get counted, we only get three,” said State Rep. Patricia Harless, (R) Spring. “It’s another opportunity to have your voice raised at the federal level, so it’s huge.”

Federal officials concede it will be especially difficult to get everybody counted in three areas of Travis County.

The following three areas have all been designated by the Census Bureau as officially "hard to count."

  • South of Anderson Lane; north of Koenig; west of Cameron road; east of I-35.
  • North of Oltorf St.; south of Riverside Drive; west of Pleasant Valley Road; east of Parker Lane -- excluding the area south of Woodland Avenue and west of Willow Creek; and
  • North of Riverside Drive; south of the Colorado River; west of Pleasant Valley; East of I-35.

Actors like high school graduation rates, limited English proficiency and immigration status all factor into that designation, according to the Census Bureau.

Several people we talked to in those hard-to-count areas weren't aware of the Census; those that were, didn't plan to participate.

Many leaders say that’s especially vexing because the areas which are the hardest to count, are also those which have changed the most since the last count and could also stand to gain the most from the 2010 Census.

“The government has that funding to give; however, you have to have representation in order to get that funding," said Chiquita Eugene, Ph.D., Capitol City African American Chamber of Commerce.

At an annual luncheon they met to discuss ways to increase involvement in the Census.

"We want to have representation the counts, representation that truly represents the African-American constituency, in order to make that a reality; we have to fill out those forms,” Eugene said.

The results of the 2010 count will be officially delivered to the legislature in April 2011. They'll then set to work redrawing the boundaries that will shape Texas' future.