Nebraska lawmakers have launched their special session to redraw the state’s political boundaries based on last year’s Census.
Redistricting is normally done the first regular session after the Census is complete, but COVID-19 issues delayed the release of detailed population figures until last month, requiring a special session to have new boundaries in place for next year’s election.
The Census showed rural Nebraska lost residents while urban areas, especially around Omaha, gained population – changes expected to result in one rural district to be moved to Omaha.
A similar change occurred in the 2011 redistricting when Northwest Nebraska’s 49th District was moved to Omaha and the 43rd District in the Sandhills and 47th in the Southern Panhandle were both expanded to cover most of the Panhandle.
State Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward has introduced a bill to preserve the rural districts by creating a new district in Omaha, giving the Unicameral 50 instead of 49.
Kolterman says adding a senator would reduce the ideal number of residents per legislative district, making it easier for lawmakers to preserve rural districts that lost population over the last decade while still adding on to fast-growing suburban Omaha.