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Today the Nebraska Legislature officially finished redistricting.
I appreciate all of the engagement from Nebraskans on these maps. I know many people feel their voices were not heard because we are not happy with the final result. I want you to know that your voice did make a difference. Without the engagement of all of you who spoke up, the maps as originally introduced may have been the final maps. Your voice prevented Omaha from being split between two Congressional districts, and got us a fair legislative map for Douglas and Sarpy County. Like you, I am not satisfied with the outcome but I recognize that it could have been much worse.
That said, I did vote against many of the maps and I want to explain my reasons. I voted for the Board of Regents Maps and the Judiciary Maps, but against the Public Service Commission, Board of Education, Legislative, and Congressional maps.
I voted yes on both Board of Regents and Judiciary because they met the standard of fair and impartial and the population deviations are within a reasonable range.
I voted no on the Public Service Commission (PSC) map because the population deviation in the eastern Douglas County district as well as the district including all of Lancaster County was unnecessarily high. I articulated my opposition on the floor when this map was first brought to the floor. I believe it was possible to draw a PSC map that had less deviation and therefore should have been done.
I voted no on the State Board of Education Map because for the first time it is not the same map as the Board of regents map, which has the same number of districts. I believe this change is clearly a political response to the State Board of Education considering comprehensive sexual education standards this year.
I voted no on the Legislative maps because I had agreed to a map in principle on Friday September 24th with the promise that there would be only minor technical changes going forward. This clearly did not happen when an amendment which made significant changes to the Lancaster County map, was proposed for second round debate. The amendment, which my fellow senators and I received with little notice prior to debate on Tuesday, was not the map that I had agreed to and voted for the preceding Friday. While I consider these final maps better than the original maps proposed in LB3, the final map was not as fair nor as clean as the map passed on the first round on Friday.
I voted no on the congressional map because the 2nd congressional district was drawn purely for partisan purposes to protect the incumbent’s chances of reelection by reaching out of the historic territory of the 2nd congressional district to add more republicans to the district. A logical nonpartisan map would have decreased the size of the district by subtraction. This partisan method of subtracting more than needed so they could add back more republicans is unacceptably partisan and should not be used. This is one of the major reasons I support a nonpartisan redistricting commission.
As I said on the floor today, those who have power should not mistake that power for strength or courage. Just because you can impose your will on others does not mean that it is right or just to do so. I am encouraged by all of those individuals who spoke out and continue to speak out to contribute to the cause of fairness and justice. That takes real strength and courage. Whether it is fighting for fair representation or a more transparent process, demanding a better criminal justice system, or standing up for maternal health in the workplace and in the halls of power, keep using your voice to stand against the powerful.