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Redistricting committee stops arguing; will bring both plans to public hearings
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Redistricting committee stops arguing; will bring both plans to public hearings

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Congressional redistricting maps

Instead of continuing to argue about competing legislative and congressional redistricting plans, the Legislature's redistricting committee decided Thursday to take both Republican and Democratic proposals to public hearings already scheduled in three cities next week.

"That's good for everyone," Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, chairwoman of the committee, said after the committee agreed to her suggestion to proceed in that manner rather than continue to battle with one another.

"We're not going to fight over maps anymore," she said.

Talking with the news media following a brief committee discussion, Linehan said she believes "this is good for everyone."

"We can have hearings on both bills," she said, "probably a Linehan bill and a Wayne bill. There will be no committee bill."

Linehan is one of five Republican members of the nonpartisan Legislature who sit on the special committee. Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha is one of four Democratic members and the committee's vice chairman.

The Linehan/Republican and Wayne/Democratic proposals differ dramatically in proposed new borders for metropolitan Omaha's 2nd Congressional District, the only competitive House district in the state, and in redistricting of legislative districts.

The Linehan/Republican plan would split Douglas County, moving portions of the county into the 1st Congressional District, represented by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln.

Heavily Republican Saunders County (Wahoo) would be moved out of the 1st District into the 2nd District, and Bellevue and Offutt Air Force Base would be restored to the 2nd District after being transferred to the 1st District 10 years ago. 

The Democratic plan would shed the rural Sarpy County precincts that had been added to the 2nd District 10 years ago. 

Public hearings are scheduled next week after the Legislature convenes for a special redistricting session on Monday.

Hearings will be held in Grand Island on Tuesday, Lincoln on Wednesday and Omaha on Thursday. 

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

On Twitter @LJSdon

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