Census 2020:
What’s At Stake in Texas

Every 10 years, a nationwide census is conducted, which “determines how congressional seats are apportioned, how state and federal dollars are distributed, where businesses choose to ship products and where they build new stores.” The census is an important – but mundane – function of government that has been turned into a political wedge issue.

The Trump administration announced in March that a new question will be added to the 2020 Census about immigration status – a question that the Census Bureau has not asked U.S. households about since 1950. Furthermore, the Trump administration privately discussed sharing census information with law enforcement in order to scare people away from answering.

In April, 17 states, Washington, D.C., and six cities announced they are suing to block the question from the 2020 census, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. They argue “the question will depress responses in states with large immigrant populations.”

In Texas, the question could affect an array of policies. Please see below.

Inadequate Representation

First, a question about immigration status will have an impact on how many Congressional seats Texas will hold. Executive Editor of the Texas Tribune Ross Ramsey wrote here, An undercounted state will get fewer seats in Congress — less representation — than a properly counted one.”

Even though the number of U.S. House seats has stayed at 435 since 1911, the number of U.S. House seats can be increased through Congress based on the census results.

Prior to the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Texas was projected to gain as many as three congressional seats. It’s unknown how the inclusion of this question will affect that projection. Dr. Steve Murdock, who was President George W. Bush’s U.S. Census Bureau Director, was asked about this potential risk of losing seats. He did not appear at all surprised and suggested Republicans may have bigger plans in mind by having a semi-accurate number of undocumented immigrants in the country. “If I had to say, this hurts Democrats more than Republicans,” Murdock said, “it makes Democrats more vulnerable in that it could diminish minority seats in government.”

Inadequate Funding

Second, a question about immigration status will have an impact on billions of dollars of federal funding for roads, health care, etc. that Texas currently receives. The federal government bases a large amount of its spending decisions on census data.

According to the New York Times, “Researchers concluded that in the 2015 fiscal year, 132 government programs used information from the census to determine how to allocate more than $675 billion, much of it for programs that serve lower-income families, including Head Start, Medicare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pell grants for college and reduced-price school lunch programs. Highway spending is also apportioned according to census data.”

Ramsey continues, “Almost 5 million immigrants live in the state, and it’s estimated that about two-thirds are noncitizens — legal permanent residents, immigrants with another form of legal status or undocumented immigrants. Additionally, more than 1 million Texans who are U.S. citizens live with at least one family member who is undocumented.”

A proper headcount of Texas’ population is based on the number of residents, not citizens alone. By adding a question about immigration status, less people will participate in the census, and the headcount will not be accurate.

Harris County and the Census

Data from the Census 2020 Hard-to-Count Maps estimates that approximately 24% of Harris County’s current population (1,080,750 people) lives in hard-to-count neighborhoods. In addition, in 2016, 19.2% of Harris County’s households had either no Internet subscriptions or dial-up only access, according to the latest American Community Survey estimates. Being left out of the census systematically deprives these groups and their communities of vital public and private resources.

Demographic Changes and County Affairs

As chair of the House Committee on County Affairs, it has been a tradition of mine that one of the first hearings we have each session as a committee is dedicated to hearing from Dr. Steve Murdock – who was President George W. Bush’s U.S. Census Bureau Director – about the rapid demographic changes in Texas and what it means for our state.  Please click here to watch Dr. Murdock’s presentation from last session, and click here to view his slides. If, I am once again chair of County Affairs I will invite Dr. Murdock back again to educate the committee and the public about the importance of the census and the impact of the changing demographics in Texas.

The Legislative Study Group, a House Caucus that I chair, wrote a comprehensive paper on this very issue earlier this year. Click here to read it.

Ultimately, the impact on any state, not only Texas, due to a 2020 Census undercount would extend beyond the fiscal concerns. This is why I stand firmly against the inclusion of any question regarding citizenship, or any other question that may have the potential effect of reducing the accuracy of the 2020 Census. It is in each state’s fiscal self-interest to ensure every person is counted.

Representative Coleman Receives ACOG Texas Women’s Health Hero Award

The Texas District (XI) of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is pleased to honor Representative Garnet Coleman as a Texas Women’s Health Hero.

The ACOG Texas Women’s Health Hero Award is given to lawmakers who show an outstanding commitment to improving women’s healthcare and promoting the best health outcomes for women and their newborns.

“Though the 85th Legislative Regular and Special Sessions proved to be challenging, Representative Coleman stood proud in his support for women and their healthcare needs,” said C. Tony Dunn, MD, ACOG District XI Chair. “We are grateful for the time and energy he spends advocating for women and newborns.”

Healthcare Forecast for the 86th with
Rep. Coleman and Rep. Zerwas

On Tuesday, I was on a panel with Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) to present our views on the state of health care in Texas and the challenges in the future. Thank you to the Fort Bend Chamber of Counties for having us to discuss the upcoming legislative session.

Join Me on Wednesday for a
Conversation on Opioid Abuse in Texas
at University of Texas at Arlington

This week, I will be speaking on a panel about opioid abuse in Texas with Representative J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) moderated by Marissa Evans, the health and human services reporter for the Texas Tribune. This event is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Please see below for details.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
University of Texas at Arlington
SEIR Building
655 W. Mitchell St.
Arlington, TX 76010

For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

Open Enrollment
for 2019 Healthcare Coverage:
Get Covered Before December 15th

How to Sign Up:

  • Now through December 15th, you can log in to HealthCare.gov and fill out an application enrolling in a 2019 Marketplace health plan
  • Enroll by December 15, 2018forcoverage starting January 1, 2019


Helpful Links:

Need Help? Call 1-800-318-2596

What To Watch This Week:

Our video of the week is from Vox. You can watch below, or click here. You can read the accompanying article from Vox by clicking here.

Problems have plagued the US Census Bureau in recent decades.

The 2020 census was added to the Government Accountability Office’s list of programs with a high-risk of failure. And failing to accurately count the population would threaten the integrity of the country’s most authoritative dataset that drives public policy.

Because the census is used in for a myriad of democratic functions, it’s important that the US gets it right. But now the Department of Justice has proposed to change the 2020 form, which could create further problems for the bureau.”


Cartoon of the Week

Source: Monte Wolverton |  Copyright 2018 Cagle Cartoons

Song of the Week

Our song of the week is “The Final Countdown” by Europe.

Categories: archived