Dueling Congressional, Legislative Redistricting Maps Proposed

Sept. 8, 2021, midnight ·

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan
Sen. Lou Ann Linehan chairs the Redistricting Committee Wednesday (Photo by Fred Knapp, Nebraska Public Media)

Republicans and Democrats on the officially nonpartisan Nebraska Legislature’s Redistricting Committee presented significantly different proposals for redrawing congressional and legislative districts Wednesday.

With the population in western and more rural parts of Nebraska shrinking, and growth occurring in the eastern, more urban areas, district lines have to shift to keep the number of people in each district roughly equal. But Wednesday, members of the two major parties differed on how to do that. And both sides objected to the map proposed by the other. Here’s Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, the Republican chair of the Redistricting Committee, speaking of the Democrats’ map.

“I’m shocked by the map frankly, the legislative map. And maybe I’m overreacting. I don’t know. I need to look at the numbers,” Linehan said.

A comparison of the two Congressional redistricting maps proposed in the Legislature (Graphic by Daniel Wheaton / Nebraska Public Media News)

Linehan said she was shocked the Democrat’s map eliminated the 10-county southwest Nebraska district of Sen. Dan Hughes and transferred it to Sarpy County, as well as splitting parts of her own district in western Douglas County into what she said were five different districts. Hughes’s district has about 5,300 fewer people than the roughly 40,000 average district size; Linehan’s has almost 20,000 more than the average.

Linehan’s own proposal would preserve Hughes’s district while reducing the size of hers, and combine the districts of Mark Kolterman of Seward and Bruce Bostelman of Brainard while creating a new Sarpy district. Senator Adam Morfeld, a Democrat, expressed equal displeasure.

“I’m also shocked by your guys’s legislative maps,” Morfeld said.

Morfeld said the Republicans maps would leave newly reelected Sen. Anna Wishart of Lincoln, a fellow Democrat, outside of her own district.

The two sides also differ in their proposed realignments of the Omaha area Second Congressional District, a swing district that also determines an Electoral College vote. The Republican map would eliminate portions of Douglas County north and west of Interstate 680 and west Dodge Road, replacing them with heavily Republican Saunders County; the Democratic map would lop off more Republican parts of western Sarpy County and add more Democratic eastern parts.

The committee is supposed to vote on maps Thursday night, a vote Linehan predicted could be 5-4. There are five Republicans and four Democrats on the committee.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan proposed congressional redistricting map
Congressional map proposed by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, a Republican (Legislative Research Office)
Sen. Justin Wayne proposed congressional map
Congressional map proposed by Sen. Justin Wayne, a Democrat (Legislative Research Office)
Linehan proposed legislative map
Legislative map proposed by Sen. Linehan (Legislative Research Office)
Wayne proposed legislative map
Legislaive map proposed by Sen. Wayne (Legislative Research Office)