Session Review: Redistricting

Lawmakers completed their redistricting work this session, setting new governmental boundaries to reflect population changes throughout the state.

The Legislature is responsible for drawing new governmental boundaries every 10 years after the decennial census for districts pertaining to the U.S. House of Representatives, Legislature, Nebraska Supreme Court, University of Nebraska Board of Regents, Public Service Commission and state Board of Education.

Lawmaker’s actions were guided by the provisions of LR102, a resolution adopted by the Legislature to ensure that redistricting plans met legal parameters and were constitutionally acceptable.

Among other provisions, the guidelines required that the Legislature:

  • use population data and geographical information from the 2010 U.S. Census;
  • create districts that are substantially equal in population;
  • create districts that are easily identifiable, understandable and that preserve the core of existing districts;
  • not favor a political party or consider the political affiliation of registered voters;
  • not dilute the strength of any minority population; and
  • follow county lines whenever practicable and follow traditional districting principles of compactness and contiguity.

Under the resolution, congressional districts were to be drawn with an overall population range of deviation of no more than 1 percent, with a goal of zero deviation. The remaining districts were to be drawn with an overall range of deviation of no more than 10 percent and no district was to deviate from the ideal population by more than plus or minus 5 percent.

Lawmakers adopted LR102 on a 40-0 vote.

Senators set new boundaries for the state’s three congressional districts with the passage of LB704.

Introduced by the Redistricting Committee, the bill shifts a number of counties from Congressional District 1 to District 3 to account for population shifts from western to eastern Nebraska. District 3 now reaches from border to border across the northern and southern boundaries of the state.

The bill also shifts areas of eastern Sarpy County from District 2 to District 1, and western areas of the county from District 1 to District 2.

The bill passed on a vote of 35-11 and took effect immediately.

Senators also approved new boundaries for the state’s 49 single-member legislative districts.

LB703, introduced by the committee, makes numerous boundary changes across the state to account for population shifts. Changes include making Scotts Bluff County a single district and moving District 49 from northwestern Nebraska to Sarpy County.

Among other changes, the bill also shifts Dawes, Sheridan and Grant counties from District 49 to District 43. Boyd and Rock counties move from District 43 to District 40, Custer County moves from District 43 to District 36 and Gosper County moves from District 38 to District 44.

LB703 passed on a vote of 37-9 and took effect immediately.

Lawmakers approved four bills that drew new district boundaries for the Nebraska Supreme Court, Public Service Commission, University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the state Board of Education.

LB699 drew new boundaries for the six judicial districts of the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Among the changes are expanding District 3 into western Douglas and Sarpy counties and moving Garfield, Greeley and Howard counties from District 3 to District 6. In addition, Seward County shifts from District 5 to District 1 and Cass and Otoe counties move from District 1 to District 5.

The bill passed 45-0.

LB700 drew new boundary lines for the five districts of the Public Service Commission.

Changes include moving Antelope, Greeley, Howard, Knox and Wheeler counties from District 5 to District 4 and moving Burt, Cuming, Dodge and Thurston counties from District 3 to District 4.

LB701 and LB702 drew new boundary lines for the eight districts of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the state Board of Education. Maps for the two entities are identical.

Changes to both maps include moving Knox and Pierce counties from District 6 to District 3 and Custer County from District 6 to District 7. In addition, Butler County moves from District 3 to District 5 and Washington County from District 2 to District 3.

The three bills were approved on 47-0 votes.

Finally, the Redistricting Committee heard testimony on two proposals to change the number of representatives in Nebraska’s 49-member Legislature.

LB195, sponsored by Cedar Rapids Sen. Kate Sullivan, would increase the number of legislators to 50, while LB233, introduced by Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, would reduce the number to 45.

Both proposals remain in committee.

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