This year is a census year. The current census that is underway is the 23rd federal census since the American Revolution.

Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution directs that the people must be counted every 10 years for determining congressional representation.

Here in Nebraska, our state constitution states in Article III, Section 5 that “The Legislature shall redistrict the state after each federal decennial census.” That means that once we have the federal census results, the Legislature then has a duty to redistrict the state not just for congressional seats, but also for state legislative districts.

The last time we redistricted was in 2011, after the 2010 census. Since that time, Nebraska has seen modest population growth, but the concentration of population in the state has continued to move to the urban areas.

Many Nebraska small towns will see the numbers on their welcome signs reduced after the census results are in. The Nebraska Constitution mandates that county lines be used in drawing district boundaries where possible, but there are many counties that have to be subdivided or combined with other counties to get to an equal number of people in each legislative district.

The process for redistricting is a little different than for other legislation introduced in the Legislature. Under current legislative rules, the Executive Board of the Legislature appoints members of a special “Redistricting Committee.”

The nine members of that committee have to be drawn equally from the three congressional districts. No more than five members of the committee can be affiliated with the same political party. Unlike other committees, the chairman of the redistricting committee is elected by the committee, not by the entire Unicameral.

This special committee is required to look at previous redistricting procedures and propose new ones for drawing the new districts. Those procedures are then voted on by the entire Legislature. Once the committee has its rules in place, it introduces redistricting bills, holds public hearings in each of the existing congressional districts, and advances its work to the floor. Then, all the senators have the chance to debate the new district maps before eventually sending final versions to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Redistricting is one of the most important jobs on the Legislature’s agenda in 2021. Without proper representation, people cannot exercise proper control over their government. I intend to make sure that districts are redrawn in a way that preserves the representation of my constituents in District 43 and for all of Nebraska.

 

Please contact my office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email me at tbrewer@leg.ne.gov, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1101, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call us at (402) 471-2628.