Nebraska Redistricting Committee to hold three public hearings

Current Nebraska districting map
Current Nebraska districting map
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:22 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska’s Redistricting Committee has lined up public hearings this week in each of the three congressional districts to allow for public comment on the proposals.

The hearings are required by rule in the redistricting process.

Dist. 3 will host the first committee hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Grand Island. It will take place in Room 444 at the Central Community College Health Science Education Center, located at 3134 W. Highway 34.

Dist. 2 will have its hearing the following day at the Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln. Their hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Room 1524 of the Capitol.

Dist. 1 will hold its hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Scott Conference Center, located at 6450 Pine St.

The redistricting proposal includes the Democrats proposed map that decreases the size of Dist. 2, keeping all of Douglas County but changing it so that Offutt and Bellevue would be included. The map Republicans proposed in their recent committee meeting increases the size of Dist. 2, cutting Douglas County in half and adding both Saunders and Sarpy counties, which lean Republican.

On Monday, a coalition of Nebraska redistricting experts reviewed the current redistricting cycle and how the process will shape the state’s elections for the next decade. The panel covered how the redistricting cycle works and will describe why transparency and public participation are crucial for this year’s redistricting process.

Nebraska lawmakers came back to work at the state capitol this morning for a special session. The main topic is a contentious one, redistricting.

Every decade, state lawmakers look at the census numbers and redraw lines based on population shifts. This morning, in the nonpartisan legislature, Republicans introduced two bills and Democrats offered two other bills on how each side believes the legislature and congressional districts should be divided.

A bill to add a senator is also included, although there’s debate about whether than can even be allowed during a special session.

“There’s a range of options out there. Me personally, I think the legislative redistricting will be more difficult than the congressional redistricting. Forty-nine people trying to get 49 lines will be an interesting deal,” said State Senator Mike Flood of Norfolk.

The idea is one person, one vote. Each of Nebraska’s 49 legislative districts should be similar in population, otherwise, one part of the state has more power than the other.

In terms of congressional districts, one of the proposed Republican maps splits Douglas County in half. Democrats have said that would dilute the impact of Black voters.

Remember, Douglas County voters gave an electrical vote to President Biden.

“Whatever bill moves forward is not going to look like it does today. There’s going to be a lot of negotiations between now and then. I hope everyone in the legislature takes the tenets of good map drawing. It shouldn’t be as gerrymandered as it is,” said State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha.

State lawmakers don’t have much time, the lines need to be redrawn by October 1.

Even though lawmakers gathered this morning, the debate on the floor of the Capitol regarding redistricting plans wont begin until Friday. All public hearings must take place prior to the debate.

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