MUD district elections move forward

Lawmakers gave second-round approval March 6 to a bill that would authorize district elections for the metropolitan utilities district (MUD) board of directors.

LB1014, introduced by Omaha Sen. John Murante, would authorize the MUD board of directors to divide the district’s territory into seven election subdivisions.

Under the bill, the board would have until Feb. 1, 2016, to establish districts composed of substantially equal population and compact and contiguous territory. The board would assign each member a numbered subdivision for the remainder of their current term of office.

Assignments would be made so as to stagger elections to the new districts until 2023. The board would be responsible for redistricting following each federal decennial census.

Murante said MUD is the only remaining political subdivision in Omaha to utilize at-large elections. He said a similar bill in 2013 changed the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) board from at-large to district elections.

“The reasons were pretty clear,” he said. “In the history of OPPD and MUD, never once had a minority ever been elected to either board.”

Murante said every political subdivision in Omaha with district elections has elected at least one person of color.

“It’s a problem that this Legislature has recognized and that we have corrected,” he said.

The bill advanced to select file on a 27-0 vote.

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