Community and Regional Planning Program


Date of this Version

Spring 4-21-2014


Trueblood, M. (2014). Urban/Rural Spatial Identity and Legislative Behavior in Nebraska: The Impact Differences on Economic Development and Environmental Legislation (Master's thesis). University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Community and Regional Planning, Major: Community & Regional Planning, Under the Supervision of Professor Yunwoo Nam. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Melissa Trueblood


The urban/rural divide is pervasive in policy-making in Nebraska. In this nonpartisan state, coalitions based on spatial identity or whether the legislator is urban or rural seem to have greater weight than party especially in the creation of economic development policy. Often, economic development policies include locational considerations which give areas such as rural areas and economically distressed areas greater weight when distributing program funds. In my study, I investigate whether constituency or party has a greater impact on the legislative behavior of Nebraska state legislators when voting on economic development and environmental legislation. I expect that constituency would have a greater impact on the voting of rural legislators due to their shared rural spatial identity between rural legislators and their constituents. I hypothesize that influence of constituency will be greater because party ties in Nebraska are weak due to the expected non-partisan nature of the Nebraska Unicameral. To test the impact of party and constituency, I conduct an analysis of final reading roll call votes from the 2011-2012 legislative session. I find that neither party nor constituency have much impact on the voting behavior of legislators. Further study will be needed to understand the factors that are organizing voting in the Unicameral. Lack of party or spatial ties can pose serious implications for economic development planning.

Adviser: Yunwoo Nam