Urban Affairs

Bill would require MUD district elections

Metropolitan utilities districts (MUD) board members would be chosen by district elections under a bill given first-round approval Jan. 12.

Omaha Sen. Brenda Council said she introduced LB190 in the hope of making MUD board membership more reflective of the citizens it serves. Currently, members are elected at large.

Most political subdivisions are elected by district, Council said, so that members reflect the geographic, economic and political perspectives of district voters.

In its 100-year history, the MUD board has had only one African American member, she said, and that member was appointed rather than elected. As a result, Council said, citizens in North Omaha feel disconnected from the board.

“The residents of some portions of that district don’t view themselves as having a representative on that board,” she said.

As introduced, the bill also would have applied to Nebraska public power districts serving cities of the metropolitan class. An Urban Affairs Committee amendment, adopted 31-0, removed that provision.

The amendment also removed a provision authorizing one at-large member of the board and instead would provide for seven election districts.

Council offered an amendment, adopted 32-0, which would stagger board member elections beginning in 2012. After 2016, all members would be elected to six-year terms.

Council said the amendment would provide continuity for the board by not requiring all members to stand for election immediately.

Senators advanced the bill to select file on a 31-0 vote.

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