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Nebraska AG: Bill to add 50th senator not allowed during special session
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Nebraska AG: Bill to add 50th senator not allowed during special session

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Attorney General Doug Peterson has concluded that a proposal to expand the Legislature does not fit within the purpose of the Legislature's special redistricting session.

An opinion issued Thursday said LB12 is "not sufficiently related to, germane to and naturally connected with" the job of redrawing district boundaries to be considered during the session that began Monday.

The measure would add one member to the 49-member body and take the Legislature to the maximum size allowed under the Nebraska Constitution.

Doug Peterson

Doug Peterson

Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward, who introduced the bill, said he offered it as a way to help preserve rural representation in the Legislature. Kolterman is facing the prospect that his legislative district would be moved to the Omaha metro area under the Republican redistricting plan.

Despite the attorney general's opinion, the Legislature has scheduled a public hearing on LB12 at 11 a.m. Friday in the Capitol.

Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers of Lincoln said that scheduling a hearing does not mean the bill will get further consideration. He said lawmakers could proceed with the bill but at the risk of a court challenge.

"The Legislature ultimately has to make an independent judgment on whether it is in or out," he said.

Unlike a regular session, special sessions are limited to the topics contained in the call issued by the governor.

Gov. Pete Ricketts called the current session for the purpose of redrawing district boundaries for Congress, the Legislature, the Public Service Commission, the Supreme Court, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents and the State Board of Education.

Friday's hearing also will include LB15, introduced by Sen. Terrell McKinney of Omaha.

It would require that prisoners be counted as residents of their home communities for purposes of the census, rather than as residents of the community where they are incarcerated. The change could affect population numbers used in redistricting. The bill may fall outside of the session's purpose as well.

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