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Nebraska Legislature's redistricting effort may need to be postponed, speaker says

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Take a look at the key differences in redistricting proposals for metro Omaha congressional districts.

Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers of Lincoln raised the possibility Tuesday that the special legislative session on redistricting could end early and without accomplishing its purpose.

If so, he said, lawmakers would have to take up the job of redrawing political district boundaries during the regular legislative session starting in January.

That, in turn, could force the state's primary election to be delayed. 

"That's not the path we want to go down," Hilgers said, "but that's the path we may have to take to get it right. It is by far, my preferred route to get this done now."

Hilgers delivered his message shortly after lawmakers gave first-round approval to two redistricting bills. The measures redraw boundaries for Nebraska Supreme Court judges and for the Public Service Commission.

They are perhaps the least contentious of the six sets of political districts that need to be redrawn following the 2020 federal census.

Lawmakers stalled over proposed congressional district maps on Friday and over proposed legislative district maps Monday. Neither proposal, drawn by Republicans in the officially nonpartisan Legislature, could garner enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

Attempts to find compromise proposals have struck out so far, but Hilgers vowed that he and the leaders of the Redistricting Committee would spend the day talking with any senator who wanted to bring up issues. 

States are struggling with the task of redistricting this year, because of pandemic-driven delays in getting information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Several states have delayed their work until January, Hilgers said.

Nebraska lawmakers have been aiming to wrap their special session by Sept. 30, so local subdivisions can get their redistricting done, potential candidates can decide whether to run and the state can meet its election timeline.

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