Committee starts on Nebraska legislature redistricting process

The once-a-decade process will redraw state and congressional districts.
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 9:25 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On Monday state senators kicked off the process that will likely reshape Nebraska’s political landscape.

It was the first day of a two-week session of a group of nine state senators tasked with creating new voting district boundaries to more accurately reflect the state’s population density.

It’s something that happens every 10 years when new census data comes out.

Nebraska’s data shows urban areas are growing. The five fastest in the state include Sarpy, Douglas, Lancaster, Hall and Buffalo Counties.

Inside the state capitol Monday a committee of nine state senators, split fairly evenly among rural and urban lines, went over the rules of redistricting and heard from the experts about what’s changed in the last 10 years.

“Nebraska continuing its typical trends which are driven by urban population growth and then kind of a steady or declining population in rural areas,” said David Drozd, a research coordinator at UNO.

Drozd is an expert when it comes to analyzing U.S. Census data. Currently, Nebraska has 49 districts represented in the unicameral. Drozd said with more people moving to the cities there could be another urban state senator.

“Likely see another unicameral seat shift from more rural territory to more urban territory,” Drozd said.

The redistricting committee is essentially tasked with making sure districts accurately reflect the state’s current population density.

Redistricting that happened back in 2011 was similar, with much of the debate hinging on more rural senators objecting to changes that favored urban areas.

“Making sure that Lincoln and Lancaster County is well represented. That we have fair and equitable maps for the next 10 years,” said Sen. Adam Morfeld, a member of the committee.

Those senators will vote on a draft of the districts by Sept. 13. With public hearings for all lawmakers on Sept.14 and Sept. 15.

“Hopefully that will be the final product but again we will see what we learn at the hearings,” said Sen. Tom Briese, who is also on the committee.

After it’s voted out of committee it becomes like any other bill. Open to amendments, changes, and floor debate before needing the Governor’s signature.

It’s too early to tell what exactly will happen but some experts believe a seat from out west moves to the east, likely in the Omaha metro area.

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