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Nebraska’s redistricting debate returns to legislative chambers

(nebraskalegislature.gov)
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 4:52 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The debate over redistricting in Nebraska returns to the legislative chambers after three town hall meetings across the state this week.

The Unicameral is in special session to redraw representative boundaries with one plan calling for dividing Douglas County for the first time in state history.

The public’s voices were loud but were they heard?

Two plans for redistricting advanced to the Unicameral, one calls for combining Bellevue with Omaha. The other, legislative bill one, divides Douglas County adding the southern half of the county with Sarpy and Saunders Counties.

”This is ridiculous. This is the definition of political theater. We shouldn’t be talking about this bill we should be working on a real genuine bill that even the chair thinks is a genuine bill,” said Machaela Cavanaugh, District 6 of Omaha.

”It is a partisan bill and I think that we need to recognize that it was DOA on arrival and it’s a nonstarter,” said John S. McCollister, District 20 of Omaha.

”If we were to take Sarpy County and stick it in the first that would take Don Bacon out of his district. We were not going to put him in the same district with Fortenberry for the two of them to run off,” said Steve Lathrop, District 12 of Omaha.

Proponents of LB 1 downplayed those testifying in Omaha against the bill and claim keeping Douglas County intact would be detrimental to Omaha in the long run.

”The ratio of testifiers shouldn’t be necessarily the deciding factor in how we move the state forward,” said Mike Moser, District 22 of Columbus.

”I do not want to isolate the people of Omaha into one district. Because maybe the other two districts might gang up on you. We’ve been very good to Omaha. You want to be isolated good. We’ll put up a fence around Douglas County,” said Mike Groene, District 42 of North Platte.

Much of the debate centered around keeping similar and core communities together, proponents pointed out that LB 1 would divide neighborhoods in the state’s largest city and pair smaller surrounding towns with segments of Omaha.

“This ludicrous map. We have to talk about for eight hours because 25 people in this room are willing to vote for a fake map.”

Several senators say they hope they can find more common ground beneficial for all Nebraskans.

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