The Nebraska Legislature’s special session on redistricting continues in Lincoln with its Redistricting Committee taking public testimony yesterday in Grand Island on redrawing the state’s political boundaries using last year’s Census data.
The data shows significant population growth in urban areas and losses in rural areas, so the expectation is that when new lines are drawn for legislative districts, one rural district will be moved to the Omaha area.
Fear of that led to a crowded auditorium at Central Community College for the hearing in Grand Island with most of those testifying calling for keeping all the rural districts.
Among those testifying was Nebraska Farm Bureau 1st-Vice President Sherry Dinton of Whitman, who said it was in the best interest of all Nebraskans to preserve as many rural legislative districts as possible.
Dinton told the committee agriculture is the foundation of the state economy and a viable rural voice needs to be preserved to share and reflect the needs of farm and ranch families and communities when major policy decisions are made.
The Redistricting Committee is holding a similar hearing today in Omaha where most of those testifying are expected to back putting another district in that area.
The last redistricting in 2011 moved the 49th District from the northern Panhandle to Omaha.
To compensate, the large 43rd District expanded from the Sandhills to include Dawes, Sheridan, and eastern Box Butte County with the 47th District growing from the southern Panhandle to include Sioux County.