NTF issue paper: legwatch218.doc. 9-21.

A legislative committee in Sept. 2021 will tackle the complex and emotional task of using the 2020 census numbers to determine new district lines for Congress, Legislature, State Board of Education, University Regents, NE Supreme Court, and Public Service Commission. Conservative taxpayers stand at a disadvantage for several reasons. First, the number of Socialist Democrat voters has increased dramatically in areas of high population growth, e.g., Douglas, Sarpy, and Lancaster Counties. Secondly, the last 10 yrs. have seen a huge influx of immigrants from south of our border, many of them illegal aliens who, because of liberal judicial rulings, counted in the 2020 census. Also, the migration from rural to urban areas has not only depleted the number of conservative rural voters but diluted their power in urban areas. Total NE population grew by 7.4%.

Douglas, Sarpy, and Lancaster Counties showed large population gains over the last decade, while rural areas continued population decline means that political power, particularly in the Legislature, will shift more power to those 3 counties. However, Sarpy County growing at the fastest rate in the state, 20%, still has many conservative voters. Douglas County gained the most overall residents, a 13% increase. Here resides a large bloc of Socialist Democrat voters, including immigration blocs that vote Democrat consistently. Lancaster County, home to many liberal government and university employees, gained 13%. These 3 counties encompass 56% of the total state population. This population change means an urban majority in the Legislature, with big cities probably controlling 27 of 49 seats, 2 more than currently. The eastern part of the state gained population while the western parts lost people. Several rural NE counties lost between 10% and 13.4% of their populations. Rural NE may lose 2 legislative seats. To balance the representation, the redistricting committee must move up to 50,000 into the 3rd Congressional District, the same number exited from the 2nd District.

Leftwing groups like the NE Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause NE, Civic Nebraska, League of Women Voters, and Planned Parenthood already are fiercely lobbying senators to tweak district lines to benefit their ideological comrades.

The state Hispanic population, including illegal aliens, grew by 40.2%, from 9.2% of the population to 12%. The Black population increased from 4.5% to 4.9%. The White population dropped from 86.1% in 2010 to 78.4% in 2020. Only 24 of 93 counties gained residents, and only 8 showed an increase in White residents, other gains from non-White residents. Black and Hispanic voter blocs go Democrat.

The legislative review office now holds the census data and will compile the numbers before disseminated to a committee of state senators, who will convene in September to redraw political boundaries during a special session. New district boundaries then sent to other political subdivisions in Oct. to redraw lines prior to the next election. The 1st Congressional District grew by 8%, the 2nd by 15%, but the 3rd District lost 1.3%. Legislative districts in west Omaha and western Douglas County gained by large percentages, whereas Panhandle, North Platte, Sandhills, and SW NE districts lost population. Congressional and legislative district populations cannot differ by more than 10%, according to state law.

The Legislature Executive Board appointed the Redistricting Committee for the 2021 re-districting process on January 27, 2021. Committee members as follows: Lou Ann Linehan (conservative), Tom Brewer (conservative), Tom Briese (conservative), Suzanne Geist (conservative), John Lowe (conservative), Steve Lathrop (liberal), Adam Morfeld (liberal), Justin Wayne (liberal), and Carol Blood (liberal). Voting to advance a fair redistricting resolution to the full Legislature this session were Sens. Brewer, Briese, Geist, Linehan, and Lowe. Voting NO were Sens. Blood, Lathrop, and Morfeld.

The committee must follow specific criteria to guide the redistricting process, so that the process abides by the state constitution. District boundaries must base on census statistics. They must follow county borders where practicable and define districts that are compact and contiguous, terms defined by the U.S. Supreme Court. District boundaries must define districts that voters can easily identify and understand, preserve local community interests, and preserve cores of prior districts. When feasible, lines must coincide with city and village boundaries. If dividing a city, village, or county, division made along recognizable boundaries. District lines must not favor a political party. When drawing lines, no consideration given to political affiliations of registered voters. Boundaries may not dilute voting strength of minorities. Objective is to create districts that are substantially equal in population.

Pertaining to congressional redistricting, populations among districts must be equal, with no range of deviation. No plan considered which results in an overall range of deviation in excess of 10% or a relative deviation in excess of plus or minus 5%, based on the ideal district population. Any deviation from absolute equality of population must appear necessary to the achievement of a “legitimate state objective” as that concept articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Pertaining to Legislative Districts, districts must appear equal in population. No plan considered which results in an overall range of deviation in excess of 10% or a relative deviation in excess of plus or minus 5%, based on the ideal district population. If the population of a county falls within the relative deviation set by these guidelines, the boundaries of that county will define a legislative district. Any deviation in excess of the above must become justifiable as necessary for the realization of a “rational state policy” as that concept articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court. Pertaining to the NE Supreme Court, University Board of Regents, State Board of Education, and Public Service Commission, same standards as used for the Legislature.

Despite the shift in population from rural to urban areas, senators must understand that rural state senators would have a disadvantage if required to serve a large number of counties, requiring much more travel time to meet with constituents and deal with their concerns. Therefore, senators should demonstrate generous flexibility in setting legislative and other district boundaries. Taxpaying citizens must become involved in this census redistribution process by lobbying the committee members and their own senator to preserve and set district boundaries that will maximize the influence of taxpaying Nebraskans. Using the information above, lobby these senators today! The political complexion of our state depends on our lobbying. The legislative deadline for process completion is Sept. 30.

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 9-21. C

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