Redistricting plans clear second round

Lawmakers gave second-round approval Sept. 28 to a package of redistricting proposals, including those that would redraw boundaries for Nebraska’s congressional and legislative districts.

LB1, introduced by the Redistricting Committee, would move Saunders County from the 1st District to the 2nd, with Douglas and part of Sarpy counties.

Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha opposed the plan, saying it is intended to make it more difficult for a Democrat to win the 2nd Congressional District seat. He said Saunders County, which is predominantly rural, has nothing in common with urban Douglas County and the fast-growing communities of Sarpy County.

“Placing [Saunders County] into the 2nd Congressional District is done for one purpose, and that’s a partisan purpose,” Lathrop said.

Senators voted 29-10 to advance LB1 to final reading.

LB3, also introduced by the committee, would create new district boundaries for Nebraska’s 49 legislative districts.

Among other changes, it would move District 36 from central Nebraska to western and southern Sarpy County to account for a population shift from the western to the eastern part of the state.

Elkhorn Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, chairperson of the committee, introduced an amendment to LB3 on select file. She said it would make “changes around the edges” of certain legislative districts and make more substantive changes to districts in Lancaster County and the city of Lincoln.

Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood supported the amendment and the bill. He said he voted to advance LB3 from general file last week with the understanding that lawmakers would make minor changes on the second round of debate.

Clements said LB1 as amended on general file would have added a portion of eastern and southern Lancaster County to District 2, which he represents. Linehan’s amendment would remove this “elephant trunk” from District 2, making it more compact, he said.

Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen opposed LB3. He said the Linehan amendment runs counter to an earlier agreement that Hansen said would have ensured that core Lincoln neighborhoods would be represented by Lincoln senators.

Hansen said the amendment would move parts of Lincoln into mostly rural districts that stretch to the Iowa and Kansas borders.

After adopting Linehan’s amendment on a vote of 32-2, senators voted 38-6 to advance LB3 to the final round of debate.

Other measures

Linehan introduced an amendment to LB7, which would redraw district boundaries for the State Board of Education. She said the amendment, adopted 40-1, would keep Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings in the same district.

An amendment to LB8, which contains a redistricting plan for the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, also was offered by Linehan.

She said the amendment, adopted 42-1, would move the boundary of District 1, which includes Lincoln, farther to the east in order to bring the population of that district and District 5 closer to the ideal population.

Senators then voted 43-2 to advance LB8 to final reading.

Additional redistricting plans advanced from select file were:
LB5, on a 40-3 vote, which would set district boundaries for the five Public Service Commission districts;
LB6, on a 44-1 vote, which would adjust district boundaries for the six judicial districts of the state Supreme Court; and
LB14, on a 44-0 vote, which would appropriate funds for special session expenses.

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