- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas House has preliminarily approved funneling statewide cases, including school finance and redistricting, to special three-judge panels - instead of to the single district judges who currently hear them.

The House approved the measure Monday 91-49. It already cleared the Senate, and one more House vote sends it to Gov. Greg Abbott.

The bill allows the state attorney general to ask the Texas Supreme Court chief justice to appoint three judges to hear qualifying cases. It’s meant to prevent plaintiffs filing lawsuits in counties with sympathetic district judges.

Numerous redistricting lawsuits have been filed, and a district judge has declared the school finance system unconstitutional in a case being appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

Critics worry it lets the state “judge shop” for its own sympathetic panel members.

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