Urban Affairs

Bill to require MUD district elections stalls

A bill requiring that metropolitan utilities district (MUD) board members be chosen by district elections failed to advance from select file Feb. 8.

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.

Senators adopted a Council amendment 29-0 that would stagger elections for the new seven-member board beginning in 2014.

Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill supported the bill. Lawmakers have tended to support district elections for local governing bodies, she said, because it results in officials who are more responsible to those they serve.

“This Legislature has a history of moving in this direction,” she said. “It’s just good public policy.”

Omaha Sen. Scott Price opposed the bill, saying the current MUD election system works well. District elections might lead board members to focus on the individual needs of their election district only, he said.

“I’m concerned that these districts will become parochial in nature,” Price said.

Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha agreed, saying members elected at large are answerable to everyone in the service area.

“The board as it is currently constituted has to worry about what is in the best interest of the MUD service area as a whole,” he said.

LB190 failed to advance from select file on a 23-15 vote. Twenty-five votes were needed for advancement.

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