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Census figures point to two more metro legislative districts in Nebraska
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Census figures point to two more metro legislative districts in Nebraska

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The latest population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau point to a potential redistricting shift of two legislative seats from rural Nebraska to the urban metroplex of Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties.

That would give those three counties 27 of the 49 seats in the Legislature.

The big three counties in eastern Nebraska now hold 56% of the state's population, David Drozd, research coordinator at the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, noted during a Tuesday telephone interview.

And that translates into 27 legislative seats based on reapportionment guidelines that strive for relative equity in population figures among legislative districts.

That's not to say that rural senators will not attempt to hold down the shift in power to a single additional urban seat when the 2021 Legislature begins the incendiary task of redrawing legislative and congressional districts following a complete accounting of the 2020 census. 

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That's a goal that has been privately expressed by a number of rural senators and it already was in the air during the 2020 legislative session.

Final census figures are not expected to be released until spring, when the Legislature presumably will be deep into its 2021 session, which begins Jan. 6.

A special redistricting committee will be formed to consider the once-in-a-decade task of redrawing districts, an exercise that brings partisanship and party membership into full display in Nebraska's unique nonpartisan, one-house legislature.

The latest figures indicate Nebraska will have more than 1.9 million people counted in the 2020 census results.

That translates into an ideal average of 39,756 people in each of the 49 legislative districts, Drozd noted.  

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Thirteen existing districts with high rates of population growth would be more than 5% above that average district size, according to preliminary census figures, with District 39 in western Douglas County, including the Elkhorn area, an estimated 46% above the average population figure.

The only district outside of Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties that is estimated to be more than 5% above the average figure is District 37 in Buffalo County, the state's fourth-fastest growing county, which includes the city of Kearney.

Twenty districts are expected to be 5% or more below the average district size, including several in the Omaha area.

The legislative redistricting process will attempt to form districts that would not differ in population by more than 10%, Drozd said.  

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSdon


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