Bell County’s doughnut district is now law — and will prompt changes in state representation to some local cities after legislation concerning the redistricting maps was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott Monday.
District 55, which is currently represented by Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, will still include Temple and Belton but the district now encompasses part of Killeen, Nolanville and Harker Heights.
District 54, which is currently represented by Rep. Brad Buckley, R-Salado, will encompass part of Killeen and all of the rest of Bell County, including Bell County’s portion of Fort Hood.
Abbott approved the Texas House of Representatives map as part of House Bill 1, which includes the doughnut district that was singled out by statewide media outlets
Shine told the Telegram Monday that he’s ready to continue serving the Central Texas residents within House District 55.
“I certainly expected the governor to sign the maps and make it official,” Shine said. “There’s always the potential of what the courts may do … but no one can predict what the courts will do. People need to be prepared for the district boundaries that have been passed by the Legislature and that the governor has signed.”
The Temple legislator — who noted how the legislation’s timing should allow for primaries to be held on March 1 — is eager to get “off and running.”
“I consider it a privilege and an honor to have served, and look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve in the next legislative session,” Shine said. “That’s what I’m prepared for.”
Buckley said he remains committed to residents of Bell County.
“Though the lines have changed, my commitment to representing the citizens remains and I look forward to continuing my service in House District 54,” Buckley said Friday. “I will continue to advocate for issues important to Killeen and other regions in Bell County, from supporting our veterans, our schools, our university, and fighting for property tax reform and relief.”
The map had been amended from what it looked like when it was originally proposed.
When the plan was originally proposed, District 54 would have had a large portion of Temple and most of Bell County east of I-35 and District 55 would have had a large portion of Killeen.
Opponents of the map during public testimony targeted the proposed split of Killeen, saying it would divide the black vote.
Despite the statewide criticism, Buckley said it was done properly.
“The process involved significant public input and met all legal and constitutional requirements,” Buckley said Friday.
According to the map, Coryell County will remain in District 59, currently represented by Shelby Slawson, R-Stephenville.
Lampasas County will become part of District 68, which is currently represented by Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro.
The map that passed the Texas Legislature concerning the U.S. congressional districts has a big change for the local area.
According to the map, all of Killeen and portions of Harker Heights would become part of District 11 — a seat currently held by August Pfluger II, R-San Angelo — along with all of Lampasas County.
District 11 pushes west, including cities such as San Angelo, Odessa and Midland.
All of Coryell County will become part of District 31, which is represented by Round Rock Republican John Carter.
Currently, all of Bell County is under District 31, and Lampasas and Coryell counties are part of District 25, represented by U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin.
Although Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties remain in District 24 in the Senate, the look of the district has changed.
The new district Bell County was written into will have the county in the northern part of the district instead of being in the southeast location of the former district.
The counties will also have to elect a new state senator.
Current Sen. Dawn Buckingham, R-Lakeway, announced a campaign to run for land commissioner, and under the new map, Lakeway falls under District 25, which is currently represented by Sen. Donna Campbell.
With Buckingham not seeking reelection to the Senate and Campbell the incumbent in District 25, it leaves District 24 vacant.
State Board of Education
In terms of the State Board of Education, not much changes for Bell or Coryell counties, except for the size of the districts they are part of.
Bell County remains in District 10, which, according to the new map, expands quite a bit.
Coryell County remains in District 14, which also changes slightly.
Lampasas County, however, will swap from District 14 to District 10.
The State Board of Education sets policies and standards for Texas public schools. The primary responsibilities of the SBOE include setting curriculum standards and reviewing and adopting instructional materials, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Telegram staff writer Joel Valley contributed to this report.