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Mid-September special legislative session will tackle redistricting
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Mid-September special legislative session will tackle redistricting

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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts recently decried critical race theory on a call-in radio show, encouraging parents to engage locally.

Speaker Mike Hilgers of Lincoln has informed members of the Legislature that he expects to convene a redistricting special session on or about Sept. 13 with adjournment by Sept. 30 at the latest.

Hilgers told senators to be prepared for the possibility of two Saturday sessions during that time frame.

Senators will return to Lincoln to tackle the once-every-decade chore of redistricting legislative, congressional and other governing districts after receiving final population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, whose work was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The redistricting process typically shatters the nonpartisan nature of Nebraska's unique one-house legislature as political party leaders influence, and sometimes drive, the process of creating new districts that will be in place for the 2022 elections.

In addition to reconstructing Nebraska's legislative and U.S. House of Representatives districts to reflect population changes, senators will redistrict less contentious districts for the Nebraska Supreme Court, University of Nebraska Board of Regents, Nebraska Public Service Commission and State Board of Education.

"It is my goal to complete (that legislative process) by Sept. 24," Hilgers wrote his colleagues, followed by a recess for a couple of days until Gov. Pete Ricketts has had an opportunity to sign or veto the redistricting bills.

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All those plans are contingent on the Legislature receiving the needed data from the Census Bureau by mid-August as currently planned, the speaker said.

Once those figures are received, the Legislative Research Division would need approximately two weeks to organize the data, Hilgers said.

Then, the Legislature's redistricting committee would have two weeks to prepare its redistricting recommendations for consideration by the full Legislature. 

The committee is required to hold public hearings on its proposals in each of Nebraska's three congressional districts.

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn heads the nine-member committee, which is composed of five senators who are Republicans and four who are Democrats. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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