The Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature has told colleagues all six statewide redistricting maps will need to pass the first round of consideration by Saturday, or he will adjourn the current special session sine die.
Mike Hilgers Tuesday outlined days of short floor work, and long afternoon and evening sessions the rest of the week in an effort to get majority approval of all the redistricting bills by the weekend.
Hilgers said pushing the issue to next year’s regular session would likely cause a delayed primary election, and while that’s not a path anyone wants, it’s a path that might be forced by the U.S. Census Bureau’s late release of data.
“No one around the country wants to be in this position, no one, least of all us. But other states have recognized that the only way to do this is to have a later primary, and do this (redistricting) in January,” said Hilgers. “We want to get this done now, I certainly want to do it now, but we also want to get it right. These lines are the lines we’re going to have for the next ten years.”
Hilgers said in a normal redistricting year, census data gets released in January, generally giving Nebraska lawmakers 90 working days over five months to hammer out compromises on the especially contentious issues of Legislative and Congressional boundaries. The Speaker said in those circumstances, lawmakers may not like a map on day one, on day 20 they may consider it, they may be warming up to it by day 40 and by the final day of a 90-day session they might be ‘all-in’.
Hilgers says if one delayed election is needed to get district boundaries done right, ultimately that’s the price we’ll have to pay.