The impact of a full and accurate 2020 census count in Nebraska was chronicled last week in terms of the hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds that are at stake.

And by the importance of securing the state's allotment of three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But a full and exact census count, or lack thereof, also impacts the apportionment of seats in the Legislature, not only in assuring an accurate rural-urban allotment, but also in determining the composition of each of those districts.

The potential loss of $409 million in federal funding over a 10-year period if the statewide census fails to count just 0.1 percent of Nebraska residents is a stunning argument for the vital importance of making sure that Nebraska has a full and accurate count.

Those figures come from the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

So does a statistical look at the minority population in each of the state's 49 legislative districts. 

Minority and low-income people, especially children, are the most likely residents to not be accurately counted in the oncoming federal census and that could directly impact legislative redistricting.  

In terms of redistricting, only one of the 10 districts that contain the highest minority population currently is represented by a registered Republican. The others are represented by eight registered Democrats and by Ernie Chambers, the only registered nonpartisan.

Sen. Joni Albrecht of Thurston is the sole Republican; her district contains a large Native population. 

Seven of the 10 districts are in metropolitan Omaha; one (represented by Sen. Adam Morfeld) is in Lincoln; the other is represented by Sen. Dan Quick of Grand Island.

The highest minority population is 74 percent in Chambers' 11th District and the vast majority of those Nebraskans would be African-American; a large Latino population accounts for most of the 63.4 percent minority figure in Sen. Tony Vargas' 7th District.

An accurate census count would help assure that legislative districts of equal population are created and rural-urban power is distributed according to population.

Rough estimates of the likely change in the composition of the Legislature following the 2020 census is a gain of two seats for urban Nebraska, essentially in the Omaha-Lincoln-Sarpy County complex, with a corresponding loss of two rural seats.

That translates into an equivalent decline in rural power, a reminder to rural senators who are seeking immediate and substantial property tax relief for agriculture that they have only a few more legislative sessions to strike a grand bargain before their clout diminishes.

It's now 25-24 urban in the 49-member Legislature.

* * *

Finishing up:

* Missouri attorney James Blase has authored a new book, "Keep it for Your Children: Theodore Roosevelt's 1903 Western Trip," which chronicles Roosevelt's stops in 10 Nebraska communities along the way.

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* During his monthly call-in radio show last week, Gov. Pete Ricketts fielded a call from "Jane in Hastings." That sounded promising at first to a reporter who was monitoring the radio show, but it wasn't Jane Kleeb.

* Summarizing opposition to wind energy development in the Sandhills, Jim of Valentine told the governor: "I want to look out the window and see bald eagles, not wind turbines."

* Sen. Steve Erdman says in response to people who like to say there are no dumb questions: "Oh, yeah? Where does the white go when the snow melts?"

* Sen. Justin Wayne suggests a constitutional amendment is needed to institute campaign finance reform. But isn't it the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than the Constitution, that is the problem here, having invited unlimited money — both dark and reported — in to dominate the process? Corporations aren't people and money ain't speech.

* Ryan Hamilton, who worked most recently with a Nevada-based consulting firm, has been named executive director of the Nebraska Republican Party. 

* Omaha Young Republicans voted 59-0 to endorse Sen. Ben Sasse for re-election in 2020, citing his "solid conservative voting record."

* Bill Maher, slamming the Democratic Party decision not to allow Fox News to host one of the Democratic presidential debates: "You wanna be in the big leagues, but you refuse to ever play an away game?"

* We have Miles to go before we sleep; my vote from Section 209 is keep him. And Sammy (@TimMilesDog).

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

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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