Sens. John Murante and Heath Mello have reached substantial agreement on a congressional and legislative redistricting proposal designed to distance state senators from the partisanship that tends to shape those decisions. Their proposal, agreed to after almost two years of give-and-take discussions, would create a nine-member citizens commission that would recommend redistricting plans to the nonpartisan Legislature after at least four public hearings throughout the state. The process would begin with base maps submitted to the commission by the legislative research office and end with legislative approval or disapproval of the plans recommended by the commission. However, in separate interviews with the two senators, it appeared that they might not be on the same page yet on one essential ingredient of the plan.
If the Legislature disapproved a recommended redistricting plan “following public hearings and (after receiving) formal opinions from the secretary of state and the attorney general,” Murante said, it could amend the proposal.
Mello said he believes the Legislature should either accept or reject the commission’s plan “on an up or down vote,” leaving it to the commission to devise and submit an amended proposal if the original plan is rejected by state senators.
Murante is a Republican who hails from Gretna and Mello is an Omaha Democrat, and both men have been active in their political parties.