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John Arch

Sen. John Arch

District 14

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Redistricting Special Session
September 30th, 2021

On August 27, 2021, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation calling the Legislature into a special session on September 13, 2021 as permitted under Article IV, Section 8 of the Nebraska Constitution. The purpose of the special session was to redraw district boundaries for the Supreme Court, the Public Service Commission, the Nebraska University Board of Regents, the State Board of Education, Representatives of Congress of the United States and members of the Legislature. On September 30, 2021 the Legislative adjourned, having completed its task after a lot of map drawing, a lot of impassioned debate and a lot of compromise.

The various district boundaries are redrawn every ten years based on U.S. Census figures. Not only does the census data determine where billions of federal dollars go to fund vital community programs, this data is also important to ensure equal representation by governmental entities based on the one person, one vote principle. The Legislature usually tackles the task of redistricting during the course of a regular session, but as evidence of the continuing impact of the pandemic, the collection of the 2020 U.S. Census numbers were stalled by several months and the census numbers were not released until early August, months after the Legislature had adjourned for the year.

New governmental districts were drawn in adherence to criteria adopted by a special legislative redistricting committee. That criteria included: following county lines where practical; establishing districts that are compact and contiguous and easily identifiable; preserving communities of interest and retaining the core of prior districts. These strict guidelines are important to ensure our government boundaries can withstand any court challenge alleging gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of boundaries to favor one party or group over another.

On the federal level, apportionment is the process of determining how many seats in the U.S. House of Representatives each state is allotted. This is of course important for representation when Congress considers federal policy, but apportionment plays a huge role in presidential elections as well because electoral votes are based on the number of congressional seats in each state. According to the 2020 Census, Nebraska’s population increased by 135,163 people, which is not enough of a change to alter the number of seats the state is allowed in the U.S. of House of Representatives. Nebraska is retaining its three seats, but the boundaries of the congressional districts changed significantly through the redistricting process based on population shifts within the state.

The courts have held that congressional districts must have a 0% deviation from the ideal population. This means Nebraska’s new congressional districts must each have a population of 653,835 residents. With respect to the congressional districts, my main objective was to keep the five cities of Sarpy County in one congressional district as I believe the cities represent one community of interest. Unfortunately, due to significant growth in the Omaha-metro area, either Douglas or Sarpy county needed to be split between Congressional District 1 and Congressional District 2. Since Douglas County has historically been the core of Congressional District 2, splitting the county between north and south, as was initially considered, resulted in an intensive filibuster that deadlocked any progress. However, an alternative proposal that was offered would have split Sarpy County down the middle of Papillion’s main street and that also lacked support. After days of negotiations, a final map was agreed upon that resulted in all of La Vista and a majority of Papillion joining Bellevue in Congressional District 1 to recognize the community of interest represented by these Sarpy County cities. You can view a copy of those maps at the end of this post.

Population shifts within our state over the past ten years have also resulted in rural Nebraska losing a great deal of its residents, which impacted the boundaries of all 49 legislative districts. Again, in following the one person, one vote rule each legislative district should ideally have a population of 40,031. Given geographic limitations, reaching this exact number in establishing districts is not always possible, and unlike congressional districts, a greater deviation from the ideal is permissible. Nebraska set a standard of a 5% plus or minus deviation from the target number.

While rural Nebraska’s population shrank considerably, Sarpy County grew considerably. Between 2010 and 2020, over 33,000 people moved into Sarpy County, making it the fastest growing region in the state. This population shift resulted in Sarpy County gaining another seat in the Legislature and rural Nebraska losing a district in central Nebraska, currently represented by Senator Matt Williams of Gothenburg. The new district, 36, covers west and south Sarpy County and will be represented by Senator Williams until a new representative is elected in the 2022 General Election. Legislative District 14 grew by 4,509 residents, a 5.5% deviation from the ideal and it had to shrink in population size. District 14 lost an area of its southeastern boundary east of 72nd Street and south of Cornhusker Road, but picked up a small area northeast along the Big Papillion Creek and an area south of Highway 370 including Midlands Hospital and nearby neighborhoods. This means some of you may end up in another district with new representation. A map of the new Legislative District 14 is also attached.  If you are interested in all of the new governmental districts, maps can be found on the Legislature’s webpage:

In my three years of serving in the Legislature, the redistricting process was probably one of the more difficult undertakings I have experienced. However, it is also one of the most important as it is the very basis of our system of government to ensure every citizen has equal representation and a voice. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your voice in the Nebraska Legislature.


Final Congressional Map

Final Congressional Map – District 1

Final Congressional Map – District 2

Final Congressional Map – District 3

Congressional Map – Base Plan

Congressional Map – Base Plan – District 1

Congressional Map – Base Plan – District 2

Congressional Map – Base Plan – District 3

Congressional Map – Alternative Plan

Congressional Map – Alternative Plan – District 1

Congressional Map – Alternative Plan – District 2

Congressional Map – Alternative Plan – District 2 close up

Congressional Map – Alternative Plan – District 3

Final Legislative Map – Metro

Final Legislative Map – District 14

Sen. John Arch

Speaker of the Legislature
Room 2103
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2730
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