The Redistricting Committee heard testimony March 16 on a resolution that would guide the Legislature’s 2011 redistricting efforts.
LR102, introduced by the committee, would establish criteria to guide the Legislature in drawing district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, Legislature, Nebraska Supreme Court, University of Nebraska Board of Regents, Public Service Commission and state Board of Education. District boundaries must be redrawn every 10 years to reflect population changes throughout the state.
Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, chairperson of the committee, said the criteria would ensure that redistricting plans meet legal parameters and are constitutionally acceptable.
Among other provisions, the guidelines would require that the Legislature:
- use population data and geographical information from the 2010 U.S. Census;
- not dilute the strength of any minority population;
- create districts that are substantially equal in population;
- not favor a political party or consider the political affiliation of registered voters; and
- follow county lines whenever practicable and follow traditional districting principles of compactness and contiguity.
Under the resolution, congressional districts would be drawn with an overall population range of deviation of no more than 1 percent, with a goal of zero deviation. The remaining districts would be drawn with an overall range of deviation of no more than 10 percent.
Langemeier said the goal is districts that are as equal in population as possible, but that the Legislature may consider legitimate state objectives if deviation if necessary.
“Population equality – known as one person, one vote – is the most fundamental requirement,” he said.
Bob Twiss testified in opposition, saying some of the legislative districts in Sarpy County that were drawn following the last census do not follow traditional districting principles.
“Those districts are not compact and contiguous,” he said. “Some of them don’t even touch each other.”
The committee took no immediate action on the resolution.