OPINION

Legislative Update with Julie Slama

Nebraska City News-Press

Redistricting Rundown

On August 27th, Governor Ricketts signed a proclamation calling the Legislature into a special session for the purposes of enacting legislation to redistrict different boundaries across Nebraska. This includes the boundaries for the Supreme Court judicial districts, the Public Service Commission districts, the boundaries for the members of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and the State Board of Education, and our Legislative and Congressional districts. 

Thus, the Legislature will convene on September 13th for a very busy special session. This column will outline the redistricting process in Nebraska and what to expect in the coming weeks.

Much of the work done during this special session will be conducted by the Redistricting Committee, and they have already met a few times prior to the special session to adopt their guidelines and analyze data. This committee is made up of nine senators from all across the state and was appointed by the Executive Board of the Legislature. By the time the Legislature convenes on the 13th, the committee will have a redistricting plan for all seven maps ready to introduce.  The maps will be available for the public to view before the start of the special session.

After they are introduced, the maps will have three public hearings, where residents from all across the state will have the opportunity to share their input on the redistricting plan. The first will be at Central Community College in Grand Island on September 14th at 1:30 pm, the second will be at the State Capitol on the 15th at 9 am, and the third will be at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha on the 16th at 10 am. You can find more information about these hearings at http://news.legislature.ne.gov/red/meetings-and-hearings/. 

Like all legislation, the committee will take a vote on each map and send it back to the Legislature for three rounds of debate (General File, Select File, and Final Reading). The maps have to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor to be implemented for the next election cycle. Redistricting maps are in effect for ten years at a time, and a lot has changed in our state since our last redistricting in 2011. 

Redistricting has traditionally been packed with fierce and heated debates, especially when it comes to legislative and congressional districts.  We are already planning on working many late nights, and going into the weekends. I will work hard to ensure rural Nebraska, especially Southeast Nebraska, continues to be fairly represented in district boundaries.

As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: jslama@leg.ne.gov.

Nebraska State Senator Julie Slama