The GOP controlled Texas House approved a redistricting plan early Thursday that would all but guarantee a continued - but smaller - Republican majority.

The map was approved on a 92-52 vote after a marathon debate that dragged into the wee morning hours Thursday.

It would pit several Republicans against each other, the natural result of an unsustainably large super majority.

Republicans rode a conservative wave in the 2010 elections and now have a lopsided 101-49 majority in the 150-member House, a supermajority so big  they can conduct business even if Democrats don’t show up.

Some Republican members and GOP activists wanted to draw the map to bring in even more conservative seats and limit the number of losses, but House leaders easily beat back those attempts.

Either way, there is only so much they can do, given the constraints of federal anti-discrimination laws and a population that is shifting away from conservative rural areas into suburbs that have seen explosive and diverse population growth.

With so many seats to protect, GOP leaders can’t draw enough safe districts to protect all their incumbents in the next election, in 2012.  Seats go where the population is, and that's the way it has to be.

The bill must pass one more procedural hurdle before it goes to the Senate.

via Texas House OKs redistricting plan that boosts GOP | Politics | - Houston Chronicle.

It's important to remember that Texas is still one of the states where the Federal Voting Rights act requires Justice Department approval of any and all changes in voting districts.  That's done to protect minority voting rights.