A special citizens’ commission would redraw Nebraska political boundaries after the ten-year census under a bill advancing in the Unicameral.
Sen. John Murante of Gretna sponsors LB 580 that would shift the duties of re-districting from a legislative commission to an independent citizens’ commission.
“It is our hope they are representative of the entire population, so that the citizens of this state could have greater buy-in and greater public confidence in the maps that we adopt,” Murante tells colleagues during legislative floor debate.
Under the bill, the citizens’ commission would forward its recommendation to the Unicameral, which would accept or reject the new maps.
But, Sen. Dave Bloomfield of Hoskins says the legislature shouldn’t shift its responsibility to a citizens’ commission.
“Colleagues, the method we currently use is ugly and can be a little partisan, but it works,” Bloomfield says. “When it’s all said and done, it works.”
Sen. Kintner of Papillion questions the motivation behind changing the body that re-draws boundaries from a legislative commission to a special citizens’ commission.
“I can tell you flat out I haven’t had a Republican anywhere come and ask me to tinker with this thing, to change it, to do anything with it at all. None. Zero,” Kintner states.
Kintner says redistricting isn’t a non-partisan issue, but has been a partisan issue, pushed by Democrats.
Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha objects to Kintner’s characterization.
“Sen. Kintner, I see him walking around trying to pull senators off (the floor), trying to tell you not to vote for this bill and his reason? Because he says it’s not Republican. That’s his reason,” Mello asserts.
Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln is ready for a change.
“The current system that we have does not work,” Campbell tells colleagues.
Campbell recalls the last redistricting battle, waged in a tension-filled chamber after the 2010 Census.
“And when we were on some of the final votes on this, we were in a night session and I really did think several senators we’re going to come to fisticuffs.”