Committee hears redistricting related proposals

The Redistricting Committee held a public hearing Sept. 17 on additional bills introduced by individual senators for the special session.

Sen. Mark Kolterman
Sen. Mark Kolterman

Among the proposals was LB12, sponsored by Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman. The bill would add a 50th legislative district to the 49-member Nebraska Legislature. Currently, the state constitution allows for up to 50 members.

Kolterman said state senators from both parties have brought proposals to the Legislature over the years to increase membership and lessen the impact of population shifts from western areas of Nebraska to the east.

Having another member would lower the ideal population for each district from around 40,000 to 39,200, he said, giving senators greater flexibility in the redistricting process while still honoring the principle of one person, one vote.

In an opinion asked for by Kolterman, Attorney General Doug Peterson said LB12 is outside the call of the special session. Peterson said the scope of the special session as determined by Gov. Pete Ricketts is limited to enacting legislation to redistrict boundaries for various political offices and that LB12 was “not sufficiently related” to that specific task.

Kolterman said he has “decided to live with” the attorney general’s decision and simply wanted to present the idea to the committee.

“This was not an attempt to throw off the redistricting (process),” he said.

Also discussed was a measure intended to provide a more accurate count of Nebraska residents for certain redistricting purposes.

LB15, introduced by Omaha Sen. Terrell McKinney, would require — for purposes of drawing boundaries for legislative and congressional districts — that an individual who was a resident of the state prior to being confined to a Nebraska prison be counted as a resident of the county, city or village in which he or she was a resident prior to being confined.

McKinney asked the committee not to move forward with the bill, noting that the state Department of Correctional Services currently does not have the necessary data regarding the prior residences of all individuals incarcerated in Nebraska correctional institutions.

The committee took no immediate action on either proposal.

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